Brisbane superstar Lachie Neale says the “swings and roundabouts” of Brownlow voting helped him secure a second victory amid annual questions about the process in the wake of his win.
Neale conceded he was perhaps fortunate to become just the 16th player in VFL/AFL history to win a second Brownlow – but because of Nick Daicos’ untimely injury rather than suggestions he was lucky to poll three votes in a round six clash against the GWS Giants.
The Lions star clinched the sport’s highest individual honour for a second time after polling 31 votes for the 2023 regular season to be two clear of runner-up, Western Bulldog Marcus Bontempelli, and three ahead of third-placed Daicos, whose Collingwood side meets the Lions in Saturday’s grand final.
Neale’s votes tally has been heavily scrutinised, particularly three votes he secured in Brisbane’s 21-point win over the Giants at Manuka Oval on April 22.
The Lions co-captain was awarded maximum votes with a performance that included 20 disposals, six clearances and three score involvements while teammate Charlie Cameron’s seven-goal haul secured him two votes.
Giants pair Josh Kelly and Stephen Coniglio had 41 and 38 disposals respectively but both failed to nab votes and while Neale joined in the surprise, he said there were plenty of occasions he missed votes he thought were coming his way.
“Yeah I was surprised (to poll three votes), (but) that’s the beauty of the Brownlow though,” Neale said on Tuesday.
“There were probably games where I thought I would poll a bit later through the middle part of the season where I didn’t pick up votes, or polled one where I thought I might get two or three that game, so I think it comes around in swings and roundabouts.
“I was lucky in that game to poll but maybe unlucky in some others. You never know how the umpires are going to vote, and (I was) fortunate that it fell my way in the end.”
However, Neale felt his fortune came at expense of Magpies star Daicos, who had 28 votes in the bag before missing Collingwood’s final three matches of the regular season with a knee injury.
“I want to give a shout out to Nick Daicos,” the Lions co-captain said.
“He‘s had such an amazing season so far and it hasn’t finished for him yet either.
“If it wasn‘t for his injury, I think the medal would have been his and he would have been a thoroughly deserving winner.
“I feel for Nick. He’s had so much pressure and intensity and scrutiny on him this year. The way that he‘s performed this year has been amazing to watch.”
Neale, who lost the 2013 grand final during his time with Fremantle, said he would gladly swap both of his Brownlow triumphs for premiership glory at the MCG this weekend.
“That’s the ultimate goal and having been through this process before and not having a premiership (medal) around my neck, I know that’s going to be the best feeling in the world if I can achieve that with this group and this club.”