REIGNING Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale has committed to staying with the Brisbane Lions, putting to rest talk he could ask for an AFL trade back to Fremantle.
Neale had been considering a move back to Perth to be closer to his wife Jules’ family, with the couple expecting their first child in October.
But the 28-year-old met with Lions coach Chris Fagan, chief executive Greg Swann and club football boss Danny Daly on Thursday to let them know he was staying in the Queensland capital.
“I’m committed and staying at the footy club,” Neale said.
“It’s been a whirlwind few days and everything has gotten a bit out of hand.”
Neale is contracted for another two seasons with the Lions after signing a five- year deal upon leaving Fremantle at the end of 2018.
He played 135 games for the Dockers before seeking out the Lions for a fresh start.
Neale admitted he and his family had spoken about moving back to Perth, with Western Australia’s tough border restrictions making the last 18 months difficult for Jules.
“(She’s) got a lot of family and support networks and friends in WA,” Neale said.
“Behind the scenes, we had a couple of conversations about how that looked moving forward.
“Obviously with the COVID situation over the last couple of years, it’s been really hard.
“But after sitting down and talking through it with our family and our friends and with the club, it became pretty clear after a couple of days that this was where the best place for us to be, here at Brisbane.
“We believe we can get the support network around us that we need.”
In three seasons with the Lions, Neale has won two best-and-fairest awards, been named an All Australian twice and last year collected the league’s highest individual honour when he finished 10 votes clear of Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak in the Brownlow Medal count.
Neale’s commitment to the club is a huge relief for the Lions, who are reeling following a heartbreaking one-point semi-final defeat against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.
(C) AAP 2021