There have been many ‘2020 in a nutshell’ moments throughout the footy season, but this one may take the cake.
After winning the Brownlow Medal in a landslide, Brisbane Lions star Lachie Neale was joined by former teammate 2019 winner Nat Fyfe via video link, who asked Neale to present the 2020 Brownlow Medal to… himself.
Baffled, Neale looked around for direction, before turning to his right and realising he really did have to do the honours all on his own.
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“You came to us at Freo as a late draft pick and really from day one set about proving to the competition how great a player you could be,” Fyfe said.
“I think what you’ve done at Brisbane is turn into one of the most consistent players in the competition, an absolute superstar.
“We’ve been teammates, we’ve been opponents, we’re always going to be great mates. I wish I was there to give you a big hug and put the medal around your neck.
“I can’t do that this year, but it’s my great pleasure to ask you to present yourself with the 2020 Brownlow Medal.”
Neale finished with 31 votes, a staggering achievement given the shortened season, averaging 1.82 votes per game.
Having been the front-runner for virtually the entire season, Neale acknowledged it was a bit of a relief to have delivered on expectation, but that he didn’t get to his current level overnight.
The 27-year-old, who was taken by Fremantle with Pick No.58 in the 2011 national draft, recalled a conversation he had with Dockers coach Ross Lyon after coming back from his first off-season in less-than-ideal shape, which included fabricating fitness numbers to improve his readings.
“That was my first off-season, I had so much to learn… we had a couple of really stern conversations early on in my career,” Neale recounted.
“He basically told me when I came back from my first off-season that if I came back like this again I’d be a fat little forward pocket in Glenelg pretty soon, play my 20 or 30 games and be out of the system.
“Those were the things that really drove me.”