Expect more focus on the ball than the man from under-fire Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko in their knockout AFL final against Richmond.
That’s the subtle hint from the Lions’ All-Australian midfielder Lachie Neale after the skipper’s position was questioned for his verbal attack on Harrison Petty last weekend brought the Melbourne youngster to tears.
Zorko apologised immediately after the game and the AFL haven’t acted further on the incident, with Zorko on Wednesday clarifying “it wasn’t just an unprovoked sledge”.
Neale, who slipped on his third All-Australian blazer in Melbourne on Wednesday, was adamant Zorko had his teammates’ support and that they’ve moved on ahead of Thursday’s elimination final at the Gabba.
But he admitted the captain had learned from the incident, which preceded a 58-point thumping.
“You’ll see him channel that into winning the footy and standing up for our guys in the way that he plays, rather than any of that stuff,” Neale told reporters.
“He’s our captain, that won’t change through September … he’ll lead from the front like he usually does with great intent … I expect him to put his head over the footy and win it for us and get to work.”
Neale said their Gabba humbling wouldn’t translate to a gun-shy performance against Richmond, whom they beat in the 2020 finals series before the Tigers kicked on to win the title.
That win is the Lions’ only post-season victory in six games over the last four years.
“We play our style of footy and when two good teams play it tends to happen,” Neale said.
“It’s not manufactured, it’s just part of the game and they’re the best rivalries.
“I don’t think we went out of way to be over-the-top physical.
“When we’re under the pump and on edge a little bit it brings out the best in our team. We know when we get challenged we can respond.”
Neale remains the betting favourite to win a second Brownlow Medal but has shrugged off the prospect, adamant Clayton Oliver, Andrew Brayshaw or Patrick Cripps would poll higher.
“I’d be pretty embarrassed (to be a two-time winner),” he said.
“If it did happen it wouldn’t sit comfortably with me at all.
“I have an inner belief that I’m the best out there and you’ve got to have that at times.
“But in this environment (speaking publicly) or sitting at home on the couch … it doesn’t sit too well with me.”
Meanwhile Callum Ah Chee (concussion) trained with Brisbane’s VFL side on Friday and will likely play a half of their final on Saturday against Southport to push his case for an AFL finals return.