Brisbane surprised many with their enormous improvement in 2019.
The Lions finished the home-and-away season in second position having finished no higher than 15th in the previous five seasons but a straight sets finals exit provided a disheartening end.
Kane Cornes suggested on Monday that the disappointing finish and perhaps some complacency creeping in could see Chris Fagan’s side stumble in 2020, much like Melbourne did last season after a preliminary final berth the year before.
“Brisbane is the interesting one. I don’t think Brisbane can win the flag,” Cornes said on SEN SA Breakfast.
“The bookies have the Lions on the fifth line of betting, fifth favourite for the flag at $10, but I’m not convinced.
“I was bitterly disappointed in what happened to them in the finals series, going out in straight sets.
“I think they could be the Melbourne of 2019. Great year, get excited, get ahead of yourself, young list, up in Brisbane, the sun is shining. Just take your foot off the pedal a little bit and you get bitten on the backside.
“I don’t reckon Brisbane can win it.”
But that assessment was lost on star Lions midfielder Lachie Neale.
He responded to those comments today, insisting that the playing group are well equipped to kick on after an impressive 16-win campaign.
“First of all, Kane is entitled to his opinion but I don’t think he would have spent too much time in Brisbane and seen the group of players that we have up here,” said Neale on on SEN Summer Breakfast.
“From what I’ve seen over the last 12 months and especially the boys coming back (to pre-season training), certainly no complacency has crept in.
“The guys are in career-best nick. Really determined bunch but as we know the AFL is always changing and teams are going to improve.
“I’ll probably put the guys on the hook a bit here but I can’t see that happening with us.
Former Fremantle on-baller Neale starred in his first season with Brisbane, breaking the club record for disposals with a mammoth 742 on his way to winning the best and fairest while helping the Lions play finals footy for the first time since 2009.
Listen to Neale on SEN Summer Breakfast below: