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Jimmy Bartel hits back at critics of Luke Hodge

Jimmy Bartel has joined the chorus of those defending Luke Hodge, dismissing suggestions the Hawthorn great has been a liability in his first season with the Brisbane Lions.

Hodge has come under fire following the Lions’ dismal 93-point loss to Richmond last Saturday.

It led to a public defence from club CEO Greg Swann.

Speaking on Macquarie Sports Radio, Bartel said he couldn’t believe the backlash.

“He’s an on-field coach and still a very good player,” Bartel said.

“He turned the footy over (on Saturday) but a lot of people turned the footy over and a lot of people had a bad day.

“To judge him on that … his first couple of games were very good.

“What he offers the young group – you hear them all talk about it – he just offers so much more than his performance.

“Who do you play instead?”

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Bartel recently started a part-time role with the Lions in list management and said he was confident they’re on the right track.

“If you take last week away and look at their Port Adelaide game and the St Kilda game and maybe three quarters against Melbourne – that’s the potential,” he said.

“They’ve got a lot of work to, of course, because potential doesn’t guarantee you anything.

“This is where some clubs fall into a bit of a trap that they think it’s “their turn” – there’s no such thing as “your turn” in the AFL – but they have got a lot of talent and a great coach in Chris Fagan who is teaching them to attack and play an aggressive style.

“If they can keep them together and you need a bit of luck with injuries and add bits and pieces around it … their progression will be quite rapid.”