Since the day he arrived at Brisbane, Lachie Neale has been standing alongside his new AFL teammates.
Whether first-year youngsters or grizzled veterans, midfielder Hugh McCluggage says Neale has gone out of his way to support everyone at the Lions.
On Sunday, the in-form Lions head to Perth to face Fremantle, the first time Neale has faced the club he left at the end of last year after 135 games.
McCluggage said it was the perfect time for Neale’s new teammates to reciprocate his support against his old club.
“I don’t know what they’ll do but it’s a really hostile crowd over there and we’ll have to be really close, big brotherhood game,” McCluggage said on Monday.
“Get around each other and especially around him and help him out.
“He’s a great person. He gets around all the boys whether you’re first year or whether you’re nine-10 years into the system.
“He’s only been here for a short amount of time and he’s already had such a big impact.”
Neale has enjoyed a sensational start to life in Brisbane, averaging a league- high 34 disposals per game, including a season-best 39 in last Saturday’s one- point win over Adelaide at the Gabba.
The 25-year-old is also second in the league for average clearances (8.11) behind Carlton’s Patrick Cripps (8.89) and ahead of ex-teammate Nat Fyfe (8).
McCluggage, who’ll be playing his 50th AFL game against Fremantle, said he’d benefited in games and training from Neale’s work ethic and skill.
“He’s a real accumulator. So good at getting the ball inside and dishing it out,” McCluggage said.
“He just finds a way to get the footy when you don’t think anyone could get it. It’s a pleasure to get a few from him and be able to use my strength which is in space.
“He’s always trying to make his hands better. He’s probably one of the best in the comp at it and he’s still trying to improve it day-in, day-out.”