Lions coach Fagan hails ‘tough’ milestone man Neale

Oliver Caffrey |

Lachie Neale chaired off the ground by Cam Rayner and Lincoln McCarthy after his 250th AFL game.
Lachie Neale chaired off the ground by Cam Rayner and Lincoln McCarthy after his 250th AFL game.

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan has described Lachie Neale as one of the toughest players he has come across after the dual Brownlow medallist pushed through pain to help deliver the Lions a crucial win.

Neale has been battling with a sore ankle, but still fronted up for his 250th game as the Lions pulled off a convincing 12.10 (82) to 8.12 (60) win over Melbourne on Thursday.

The 30-year-old now has a perfect winning record in milestone matches dating back to his 50th when he was at Fremantle in 2015.

“He hurt his his ankle a few weeks ago and he gave it another little tweak last week,” Fagan said of Neale.

“We only had to get six days to get him right so our medical team did a great job and Lachie did a great job himself. 

“He’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever come across in footy. 

“He was so determined to play and he did everything to get his ankle right during the week, and he’s done that a couple of weeks in a row now.”

Premiership favourites before the first round, the Lions stumbled out of the blocks by surprisingly dropping their opening three matches.

Brisbane made light work of North Melbourne in Gather Round to open their 2024 account, but the big test was always going to be Melbourne.

The Lions passed it with flying colours, recording their first home-and-away win at the MCG since 2014.

“I feel like that’s one of the best games we’ve played in a long time,” Fagan said.

“We’ve played some good games, but that was a pretty special sort of effort, and particularly in Lachie Neale’s 250th.”

The Lions will return to the Gabba next Saturday night for another huge clash when they face Geelong.

After winning every game at their home ground last year, the Lions will be desperate to get on the board in Brisbane this season after dropping their first two games at the venue to Carlton and Collingwood.

“I reckon our 0-3 was a little bit catastrophised,” Fagan said.

“I didn’t think we were that badly out of form.

“I don’t think our group ever lost confidence.”