K rock Football

Lions still a shot – Neale

Brisbane Lions midfielder Lachie Neale. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

THERE has been no dodging it, but no despair either as Brisbane attempts to move on from a Melbourne AFL mauling that star midfielder Lachie Neale described as a timely reminder of the premiership standard.

Both the re-signed Neale and coach Chris Fagan gave their Demons drubbing some perspective as they eye a bounce back against the Western Bulldogs at the Gabba on Thursday.

“We played shocking and Melbourne were really good; they taught us a lesson on contested ball and premiership standards,” Neale said of the Lions’ 64-point loss last week.

“It was a good reminder for us and if you look back on teams past – Richmond getting smashed by St Kilda the year they won their first premiership in 2017 – it happens.

“We don’t like it when it does, but as long as you learn from it … you can become better for it.”

Neale on Tuesday emphatically ended any lingering speculation he’d return to Fremantle by signing an early extension that will keep him at the Lions until he’s 33 in 2026.

“Last year there was a bit of a kerfuffle at the end of the year (linking him to a trade to the Dockers) but … once that stuff was past me last year I was able to move on pretty quickly,” he said.

Adamant they can win a flag, Neale said any external doubt about the premiership quality of his midfield unit didn’t compare to the internal expectations they hold of themselves.

“It’s on all of us, we’ve had a good look at it … words are cheap now, just need to get it into action and you’ll see a better response,” Neale said.

Fagan echoed Neale’s thoughts on Melbourne’s superiority and how he hoped it could shape the rest of their season.

“You can’t spend too much time wallowing and we’re not the first team that’s had a big beating by Melbourne,” Fagan said, noting their dominant 2021 finals campaign.

“That’s the level of intensity you need to be at to win the premiership,” he said.

“They showed us that in Round 15, which is a good thing.

“And if you look back through history there’s been plenty of teams that won premierships that had severe beatings during the season.

“This is not unusual stuff; we gave it perspective, we know we’ve got to improve, but our season’s well and truly alive.”

Brisbane has brought Dayne Zorko and Zac Bailey back from injury and illness to face the Bulldogs, dropping Tom Berry, Deven Robertson and Mitch Robinson.

Lachie Hunter will play his first senior match for the Dogs since taking time out to deal with personal issues after Round 5, and 19-year-old utility Dom Bedendo will make his debut.

Caleb Daniel and Ed Richards are out injured while ruckman Tim English is still recovering from concussion and could not be considered.

(C) AAP 2022