Lachie Neale has established himself as one of the premier midfielders in the AFL since making a shock move from Fremantle to Brisbane at the end of 2018. The South Australian had already won two best and fairest awards when he swapped one coast for the other, but has now become the most consistent ball magnet in the game. He earned his first All-Australian blazer and another best and fairest at the end of his first year at the Lions. Now Neale is the 2020 Brownlow Medallist!
The 27-year-old spoke to The Journal about a variety of topics on the eve of the finals – revealing a pre-game ritual that started in Adelaide, travelled to Perth and has now become a part of his repertoire in South-East Queensland.
How have you dealt with the coronavirus pandemic and how has it affected your season?
It’s been a tough year for everyone. We’re lucky enough to still be working and have a job, so that part of it has been great; we’ve been able to nearly complete a full season, which has been great for the AFL. We have been living in pretty strict rules, especially the teams in from Sydney and Victoria – and even WA. We are lucky enough to live in our own house, but we can’t do what the public can do in Brisbane. It has been a really different year but we’re lucky we still have a job and can still play footy, whereas a lot of people are far worse off than us.
Where is the first place you will go when you can head overseas again?
The wife and I are pretty keen to get back to the States. We’ve both been but not together. We both love travelling and have done some pretty cool trips already in Europe and the Maldives. We went to Bali a few times when we were in Perth. I wouldn’t mind going to some of the college towns in the States over the big city areas – we’ve both done that before – so it would be cool to hire a van and travel around, visit a few low key places. I reckon it would be a pretty cool experience so that’s definitely on the bucket list. Who knows when that will be at the moment.
Where is your favourite café?
It’s a bit sad actually. We had a coffee shop right near our house in Coorparoo called Little Sister but that’s shut down now, which is pretty flattening. They were shut for that first bit over COVID. Now we go to Blackbird Espresso which we have been going to a little bit. Jules bought me a coffee machine not too long ago actually, so I’ve been whipping up a few at home.
What is your go to restaurant in Brisbane?
I have a little ritual before every game. I always go to Marinara in Hawthorne and order takeaway. They have the best carbonara I’ve ever had. It is a little Italian place. All the staff are Italian and they’ve painted the walls to make you feel like you’re in Italy. That’s our favourite restaurant in Brisbane, especially for Italian. I’ve been eating pasta before games for six or seven years. It used to be spaghetti bolognese when I was living in Adelaide with mum, but I’m a sucker for a carbonara.
The biggest highlight of your career might happen on a Monday night next month or on the final Saturday of the season. But what is the best moment of your career so far?
The prelim final win in Perth. I was a sub that game but it was an awesome atmosphere playing in a winning prelim when you’re at home. The two finals last year were a highlight. We’d spent ages out of the finals so to make it back last year at a packed Gabba were pretty insane. Some of the boys played games in front of 8000 for a few years so it was awesome when we started packing out the Gabba in the back end of last year. It is super loud there.
What is your go to pair of RIXX sunglasses?
I’ve got five or six of the Orbits. I roll around in them. I’m wearing the wolf grey ones at the moment.