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Neale’s attention is only on finals

THE Brownlow Medal can wait for Lachie Neale as he focuses on redemption for the Brisbane Lions’ 2019 finals wipeout.Neale’s expected haul of honours for his remarkable 2020 season started on Thursday night when he was named the AFL Players’ Association MVP, awarded the AFL coaches’ gong and selected in the All-Australian team.The game’s ultimate…

THE Brownlow Medal can wait for Lachie Neale as he focuses on redemption for the Brisbane Lions’ 2019 finals wipeout.

Neale’s expected haul of honours for his remarkable 2020 season started on Thursday night when he was named the AFL Players’ Association MVP, awarded the AFL coaches’ gong and selected in the All-Australian team.

The game’s ultimate individual honour – the Brownlow Medal – seems Neale’s for the taking when the winner is announced on October 18.

But before then, the 27-year-old midfielder has the task of guiding the Lions to their first grand final since 2004.

“I’ve definitely thought about it (winning the Brownlow Medal), but I’m not sure if it’s going to happen,” Neale said.

“I don’t have any control over it now. I’ve played the home-and-away season. It’s up to the umpires, they would have put their votes in, so we’ll wait and see what happens.

“I’ll put that to the side now and concentrate on Richmond next weekend.

“It’s a massive game for the footy club, and we’ve put ourselves in a great spot to make an assault on this finals campaign.”

That the Lions are starting their latest tilt with next Friday’s clash against the Tigers at the Gabba is fitting in their bid to right the wrongs of last season.

Brisbane was in a similar position at the start of the 2019 finals series, but premiership dreams quickly became a nightmare, with a qualifying final loss to Richmond at the Gabba quickly followed by a season-ending defeat against the GWS Giants.

“They’re probably pretty happy playing us,” Neale said of a Richmond club that hasn’t lost to Brisbane since 2009.

“But I know that we’re excited, and we feel like our best footy can beat anyone in the competition.

“In saying that, they’re the best in the competition, they have been for the last four years, so it’s a great challenge.”

It’s a challenge that Neale will spearhead and relish despite not always comfortable being considered among the sport’s elite.

“When I’m standing here and talking about it, and reflect on it, it doesn’t feel right,” he said.

“When I’m playing, I have full confidence in my ability and feel like I’m in that top echelon … but when I take a step back and reflect on it, it’s a bit overwhelming and probably doesn’t quite feel real.

“It’s a double-edged sword. In one circumstance I do (feel among the best), and in the other I don’t, but when I’m out there playing, absolutely.”

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