Lachie Neale wins Brownlow medal, outlines bold ambition for Brisbane | Sport

With a Brownlow medal hanging around his neck, Lachie Neale has put his Brisbane side “on the hook” and vowed not to stop until the next box is ticked. The Lions midfielder romped to the AFL’s top individual honour on Sunday night, accepting the medal at the Gabba a day after his side was rolled by Geelong in a one-sided preliminary final.

Neale was voted best on ground in a remarkable 10 matches during 2020, fashioning an unassailable lead in the count after 16 rounds of the 18-round season. The gun midfielder easily finished ahead of Travis Boak (21 votes) with Christian Petracca and Jack Steele (both 20 votes) equal third in a ceremonial night that was as predictable as it was peculiar.

Fremantle recruit Neale, who admitted he was still terribly flat after the loss, credited his side for putting him in the frame for the prize. The Lions have gone from five-win seasons in 2017 and 2018 to second place regular-season finishes in the two years since Neale has joined the club.

Neale likes to write down his goals and he says there will be some freshly-scratched notes once he has enjoyed some time off. “I’ll sit down and write them down probably in four weeks, but the ultimate is a premiership,” he said.

“That’s what I want, what I crave and I don’t think we’re going to stop until we get there. I’m willing to put us on the hook; this group can have a really sustained successful period and I look forward to being a part of it.”

Neale’s teammates have praised his ability to lift their games, the likes of Zac Bailey and Brandon Starcevich joining Harris Andrews, Hugh McCluggage, Jarrod Berry and Cameron Rayner as the side’s great young hopes this year thanks to his mentorship. The possible addition of Essendon’s Joe Daniher next season would add another string to a forward line led by the dynamic Charlie Cameron.

“We’ve got so many young guys with so much room for improvement and the more senior footy they play together the better they’ll play as a team,” Neale said. “We know we’ve got to put in the work every summer, every off-season, otherwise teams will go past us.

“[Geelong were] a lot stronger, played better [on Saturday] but we’ve got the talent, now we just have to put in the work and we should be aiming very high in the next few years.”

AFL’s night of nights was staged across venues in Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney because of Covid-19. It meant 2019 Brownlow winner and Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe wasn’t able to give his former teammate a “big hug and put the medal around” his neck in Brisbane.

Fyfe instead gave a short speech via video link before Neale presented himself with the medal, emotionally thanking his wife for moving with him to Brisbane in 2018.

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