Dual premiership Kangaroo David King believes the Lions have “blown” a golden premiership opportunity that will likely never face them again.

But Brisbane coach Chris Fagan believes his side’s preliminary finals exit is all part of a tough but necessary “process” clubs inevitably experience before achieving success.

The Lions fell short of making their first Grand Final since 2004, suffering a comprehensive 40-point loss to Geelong at the Gabba on Saturday night.

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Preliminary Final

With all Victorian and New South Wales clubs relocating north to continue the 2020 season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the Lions’ 12th straight match in Queensland and their 17th from 20 games this year. And should the Lions have beaten the Cats, they would’ve been playing a Grand Final on their home Gabba deck.

Speaking on Fox Footy’s First Crack, King labelled it a “blown opportunity” for the Lions.

“I know we all want to be nice and we want to say ‘well done Brisbane and they’re a great footy club and they’ve now gone from five wins to this to this’ – all true. But tonight, they got a Geelong that had played the extra week, they’re at home, they manage their own two weeks … you just think ‘if only’,” King told Fox Footy’s First Crack.

“At the end of the day it’s about winning premierships. Well done to them, but this was a blown opportunity.

“They would know that they will never get an opportunity like this. They may get better in terms of talent, they may have a better system next year, they may win more home and away games. But they got a prelim at home and a Grand Final at home – and they will never get that again.

“I love what Chris Fagan’s done, they’ve got a culture now that has standards and it’s a visible, viable brand of football we all can see when we watch them play. They just they just need more impact from their stars at the right times.

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“Let’s be honest, their moment was tonight. As a midfield they failed, their moment tonight as a forward line – even though they didn’t get a lot of opportunities – they certainly failed, I think in that middle portion of the game, where the arm-wrestle was on.”

Speaking after the game, Fagan said players and staff were “incredibly disappointed” the Lions’ strong 2020 campaign ended at the second-last hurdle, but added that when teams finish inside the top four and face hardship, “it’s that disappointment that hardens you in the long run”.

Lions press conference

Lions press conference

10:40

Fagan pointed to his time at Hawthorn where he oversaw the club’s football department. After winning the 2008 flag, the hawks missed the finals in 2009, suffered an elimination final loss in 2010, a heart-breaking preliminary final loss in 2011, a heart-breaking Grand Final loss in 2012 before winning three straight flags.

“It’s a process you have to go through unfortunately – I was hoping that we wouldn’t have to – but we met a team tonight who has lost a lot of preliminary finals and they desperately wanted to get into a Grand Final,” he told reporters. “They showed that in the way that they played tonight – and all credit to them.”

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Fagan was seen having a conversation post-game with Cats superstar Patrick Dangerfield, who finally took part in a winning preliminary final after four previous prelim losses.

“It’s part of the process of becoming a really good footy club, to taste disappointment and grow from it,” he said.

“That’s how you grow – and that’s what we’ve been doing for four years at this footy club. You guys have got to remember, we were on the bottom, we were wooden spooners four years ago and we’re in a preliminary final four years later.

“We are on the right track.”

Lions coach Chris Fagan has taken his side to two straight finals appearances. Picture: Quinn Rooney
Lions coach Chris Fagan has taken his side to two straight finals appearances. Picture: Quinn RooneySource: Getty Images

Four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis said he was also a “big believer” in Fagan’s theory.

“I still think that you need to have – and Port Adelaide are going through this – you learn your greatest lessons in the moment where you have your deepest pain,” he told First Crack.

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