The Brisbane Lions’ hit list is one team shy of completion and beating Richmond in Friday’s qualifying final would tick that last box.
Two years ago when losses were the norm for Brisbane, coach Chris Fagan drew up a list of teams the Lions had not beaten for “a long, long time”.
“We’ve been just ticking them off,” Fagan said.
Except for the Tigers, who the Lions haven’t got the better off since 2009. That’s 15 losses in a row.
Brisbane gets another chance bury the Richmond bogey – and the pain of last year’s finals failure – when they host the Tigers in Friday night’s qualifying final at the Gabba.
“I think our guys have grown up as a team and our guys understand if you want to beat the best you’ve got to be very even across the board,” Fagan said.
“Across the course of the last couple of years we’ve played many teams that have had long winning runs against us and we’ve been able to change that.
“There’s one left and we just want to embrace that challenge. At some point in time we’re going to change it.
“It’d be great if it’s on Friday night, but Richmond are a very old, experienced finals team.”
And a successful finals team, having won two of the past three premierships.
But Fagan dismissed suggestions the Tigers had an “aura” about them.
“Aura’s a big word … supernatural. I’m not sure they’re supernatural, they’re just human beings like we are,” Fagan said.
And that includes Tigers’ talisman Dustin Martin, who has torn the Lions to shreds too often for Brisbane’s liking in recent years.
“He’s difficult because he’s a great player but he’s like anyone else – he’s got strengths and weaknesses,” Fagan said.
“We also know about team defence. If the ball gets down there quickly, he’s going to be a handful, but if the ball doesn’t get down there quickly it’s not so easy for him because there’s more of a crowd, so our ability to defend the full oval and to slow Richmond’s ball movement down is going to be critical in the game.”
To help his players cope with the pressure and expectation of winning a premiership at the Gabba this season, Fagan spoke to them about Cathy Freeman’s 400m gold medal-winning performance at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Having recently watched the television documentary on Freeman’s success 20 years ago, Fagan said: “It’s all part of it, living with expectation and being able to cope with it. I think we’re better placed this year to do that.
“Part of being mentally strong is not letting what happens in the game affect you too much.”