Lion Lachie laughs off Brownlow talk
Superstar Lions midfielder Lachie Neale has shut down talk around his Brownlow Medal hopes, instead turning his laser focus to reversing Brisbane's fortunes against Richmond in next week's AFL qualifying final.
A humble Neale declared he "doesn't think he'll win the Brownlow" despite his first season in the River City being a runaway success.
The former Fremantle Docker has been in scintillating form, including last week's outrageous 51-disposal game against the Tigers.
The 24-year-old is widely tipped by experts and bookies alike to collect All-Australian and Brownlow honours.
But Neale happily deflected questions of individual form on Tuesday, going so far as to rule himself out of contention for the game's top gong.
"I don't think I'll win the Brownlow," Neale said.
"I suppose once that night comes around it'll be a bit more exciting and what not but there's a lot of great players in the comp that will be hard to beat, that's for sure."
Instead, Neale's attentions are firmly focused on the man who knows all too well what it takes to be the league's best and fairest - Dustin Martin.
The 2017 Brownlow and Norm Smith medallist showed exactly how damaging he can be with a commanding Round 23 performance against Brisbane, prompting calls for the Lions to tag him in next week's rematch.
Neale has received plenty of attention himself this season and says while restricting Martin is key to shutting down the Tigers, that's easier said than done.
"He's going to have his moments in games as great players do so it's about trying to curb those moments and limit them," Neale said.
"(He's) always going to have the footy and be pretty dangerous because he's a great player.
"I'm not sure if we'll head down the path of a tag but we haven't done too much of that this year."
Martin's two-goal, 21-disposal effort led a Richmond midfield that dominated the Lions for much of the opening quarter and while Brisbane managed to wrestle back control, Neale knows his side can't offer "Dusty" and co the same leeway next week.
"We actually controlled that part really well for most of the game, contested possessions were strong and we had a couple more inside 50s so I thought we were OK in that area but defensively we got opened up a little bit," he said.
"It just shows how important it is for our pressure to be at its absolute highest, especially against them (Richmond).
"They're a great side and they move the ball very quickly and easily through the hands if you don't apply that pressure."
Brisbane skipper Dayne Zorko remains undeterred despite the 27-point loss, saying his side will learn and grow from the result.
"We hadn't played them (Richmond) for 26-27 rounds, so it's a long time not playing a side," Zorko said at the club's finals launch.
"They'll take a lot out of it, we certainly know we have already. It's certainly going to make for an interesting clash in a couple of weeks.
"The past two weeks we've played in front of very large crowds and we've adapted really well to that.
"That'll only hold us in good stead for the next fortnight as well."
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