Brownlow Medal winner Lachie Neale has credited former Fremantle coach Ross Lyon for moulding him into the footballer he is today.
Neale took out the AFL’s most coveted individual award on Sunday night, polling 31 votes on his way to a first Brownlow.
But it was a number of stern conversations from Lyon that helped him turn his career around after being selected with Pick 58 in the 2011 draft by Fremantle.
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Neale had work to do after his first season of action, with the former coach suggesting he’d be a “fat little forward pocket” at state league level if he didn’t spring into action.
“I think that was part of it. That was my first off-season, I had so much to learn,” he said.
“Ross was a great influence on me and he really drove me to become a better player and I couldn‘t thank him enough for the work that he did with me at my time at Fremantle.
“We had a couple of really stern conversations early on in my career. 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 at Glenelg pretty soon and play my 20 or 30 games and be out of the system.
“Those were the things that really drove me and I‘m glad I responded well to them. I think that Ross knew that would drive me, so yeah, full credit to Ross.”
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Neale outlined a cheeky moment where he attempted to trick the club he had completed a running session, when he actually was sitting on a motorbike.
“It’s a story I’m not that proud of,” he said.
“I used an app called Strata and I strapped the phone to my arm and jumped on my motorbike and did the session on there and it got sent through to the Fremantle footy club… but it was on the motorbike.”