Lachie Neale has had a stellar first season with the Lions.
Lachie Neale has had a stellar first season with the Lions.

Aker ready for new member of Lions Brownlow club

LIONS hall-of-famer Jason Akermanis believes Lachie Neale could join him as a Brownlow medallist after a dynamic year that has driven Brisbane to the top of the AFL ladder.

Recruited from Fremantle at the end of last season, Neale ($7) is third-favourite for the Brownlow with Ladbrokes, behind former teammate Nat Fyfe ($3.25) and Patrick Dangerfield ($3.75).

Akermanis, Simon Black and Michael Voss were part of an iconic Lions midfield trio who all won Brownlows, with Black's success in 2002 the last time the club has won the award.

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"I reckon Lachie and Nat Fyfe will be the Brownlow quinella - I am not sure in what order,'' said Akermanis, who played in the Lions' three premierships from 2001-03.

"The boys have won so many games. Lachie's stats are great. He has been dynamite all year. He is not overly big but he does everything well and he is really clean.

"He doesn't fumble and he brings everyone else into play. He is going to get a lot of votes.''

Lachie Neale is in the Brownlow Medal mix. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright
Lachie Neale is in the Brownlow Medal mix. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

Though the Lions have a large group of players who will be experiencing the pressure of finals football for the first time, Akermanis said recent history proves the lack of a September pedigree does not have be a major impediment to a premiership.

"You look at the Bulldogs and Richmond when they won titles recently.

"Richmond had not (won a final) since 2001 and they just clean swept everyone. I don't think having finals experience really matters any more.

"The Bulldogs were the same. They got their arses whipped in the last round and came through. If you hit your straps at the right time you can do it.''

Jason Akermanis with his Brownlow Medal in 2001.
Jason Akermanis with his Brownlow Medal in 2001.

Akermanis said a rare behind-the-scenes visit to the Lions this season gave him an insight into the reasons why have the Lions have vaulted up the ladder.

"When I was in Brisbane I had a look at their touch program and I saw a little session they did before weights and I was very impressed," he said.

"As soon as I saw that I could see why they were so much better. In close they are so much cleaner and more precise.

"They were working on decision-making and making it harder on their brains to pick the right option. They seem calmer than they have ever been.

"Even in the pre-season Luke Hodge was saying, 'We will play finals this year'.''

"It is all coming together. I really like the balance of the side.''

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