After four brilliant performances in a row since the AFL season re-start, Brisbane’s Lachie Neale has created an even bigger gap between him and the rest of the Brownlow Medal contenders.
Quite simply, Brisbane Lions midfielder Lachie Neale keeps getting better. In the five rounds of season 2020, the former Docker has elevated his standard yet again and has, quite incredibly, firmed into a $3 Brownlow Medal favourite with Palmerbet. And the gap with the next-best continues to grow. Second-favourite Patrick Cripps is back at $8 – a significant gap at this early stage of the season. For reference, after Round 5 last season, the favourite (Cripps) was at $3.90 and the next best (Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield) $4.40.
For Thursday night’s clash between the Lions and Geelong, Palmerbet are offering $5.00 BoostedOdds for both the Lions to win, plus Neale to rack up 30+ disposals,
Is Lachie Neale in career best form?
— Palmerbet (@PalmerbetAU) July 7, 2020
Charting Neale’s rise in 2020
When the AFL season kicked off again after the COVID layoff, Neale was an $11 Brownlow hope. The ball-magnet had seven players at either an equal or shorter price. But each week since, he has whittled away that price:
- After 29 disposals and two goals against his old club Fremantle in Round 2, Neale shortened into $9
- Then 32 disposals and two goals against West Coast in Round 3, Neale came into $6
- Again, with 31 disposals against Adelaide in Round 4, Neale shortened into $4.33;
- And after 29 disposals and a goal against Port Adelaide in Round 5, Neale is now into $3.
25+ disposal games in 2020
1x: 43 players
2x: 15 players
3x: Travis Boak, Luke Parker, Steele Sidebottom
4x: Andrew Gaff, Scott Pendlebury
5x: LACHIE NEALE
— Swamp (@sirswampthing) July 7, 2020
The midfield bull was already one of the game’s most dominant players before this AFL season. But some believe he’s gone to another level. After outspoken commentator Kane Cornes questioned the mentality of the Lions late last season, the club invited him to come along to their pre-season camp earlier this year. And what he saw from Neale amazed him. “I love Lachie Neale,” Cornes said. “I watched what he did at the Brisbane Lions’ pre-season camp in Tasmania. He stayed for half an hour after everyone else had gone to shower up, he was out there with the midfield coach doing extra drills for his hands. I thought, there’s no surprises why the best are the best. How clean he was. I think he’ll probably be the Brownlow Medallist this year.”
Most @AFLCoaches votes after 5 rounds
43 – Gary Ablett jnr 2009
42 – Nat Fyfe 2015
40 – LACHIE NEALE 2020
39 – Josh Kennedy SYD 2012
36 – Patrick Cripps 2019
36 – Lance Franklin 2008
— Swamp (@sirswampthing) July 6, 2020
The case has been made that ball magnets like 2018 Brownlow Medalist Tom Mitchell, while getting lots of the ball, don’t hurt you on the scoreboard. Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has famously allowed Mitchell to go un-tagged in games where he has twice accumulated over 50 touches. But the same can’t be said of Neale, who not only boasts impressive raw numbers, but scoreboard-impacting disposals.
Disposals per score involvement in 2020 …
Oliver: 12.2 https://t.co/IiKq1Hm5ho
— Ben Waterworth (@bjwaterworth) July 6, 2020
The Lions midfielder has averaged just 3.9 disposals per score involvement thus far in AFL season 2020. That is, for approximately every four disposals he has, one of those is on average involved in the Lions impacting the scoreboard. Commentator David King said this is a change from the Fremantle-era Neale. “Lachie Neale has completely changed his game,” he said on on Fox Footy’s The First Crack. “He was one of those guys. He was an accumulator and a best and fairest winner at Fremantle, so the model’s there…You can change, you can become a centre bounce player that breaks from traffic, you can become a goalscorer.”