One and five.
These are two numbers Brisbane coach Chris Fagan is tired of talking about ahead of the Lions’ return to the AFL finals against Richmond on Thursday.
But Fagan knows there’s only one way to move past his side’s 1-5 finals record in the last three seasons.
“They’re not stupid, the players; they know the record but to be honest I’m sort of sick of it,” he told reporters ahead of Thursday’s elimination final at the sold-out Gabba.
“I’ve said 1000 times; the only way we can answer that question is to go out and play well and win.
“If we win, people stop talking about it. If we lose it’ll be one win and six losses. We know the score.”
Brisbane’s task is daunting though, against a resurgent Tigers who have stormed into seventh and will welcome back superstar Dustin Martin.
Martin got through Wednesday’s captain’s run at the Gabba while Shai Bolton was a notable absentee but is set to play after arriving late in Brisbane due to personal matters.
The Lions,have limped into sixth, dominated by defending champions Melbourne in the final round, 18-year-old Darcy Wilmot to debut and Deven Robertson and Mitch Robinson elevated to replace the injured Jarryd Lyons (groin) and suspended Noah Answerth and Cam Rayner.
Tall defender Marcus Adams (concussion) is also missing and Richmond have bragging rights after overcoming a 42-point margin to win their last encounter.
Among the fancies in the previous three years, Brisbane enter a fourth-straight finals campaign as the bookies’ seventh-favourite to win the flag.
“Maybe it’s out of sight out of mind,” Fagan mused.
“Maybe it’s because we’ve played six finals and only won one of them.
“Maybe it’s because it looks a little bit like our form’s dropped away a bit in the second half of the year.
“I’m not so sure. But what I do know is a new season starts tomorrow night and what’s happened in the past doesn’t really matter.”
The Lions’ only finals win under Fagan was against the Tigers in 2020, Richmond recovering from that loss to streak to the flag in a Gabba final.
A new-look forward line loaded with roving dangers and boasting twin tall threats Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt presents a different challenge this year.
Martins’ return has forced retiring triple-premiership teammate Shane Edwards out of the side in another big selection call.
“You’ve got to set up your team defence really well and the other thing you’ve got to do is concentrate yourself on scoring, which we’re pretty good at ourselves too,” Fagan said.
“We’ve got a similar threat for them as they do for us.”
Hardwick expects the scepticism around the Lions will only create a more dangerous opponent on Thursday.
“Absolutely; it’s ‘us against them’ and it’s the same for us travelling up here (to play in enemy territory),” he said.
“We could sit here and argue back and forth (on who can claim) underdog status, but we’ve both got to win and that’s the beauty of an elimination final.”