The Courier-Mail

Back pain has Lion king below his best

- CHRIS HONNERY

BRISBANE’S Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale admits he’s not playing at 100 per cent as a back niggle hampers his 2021 campaign.

The gun midfielder is yet to hit his peak in the opening rounds of the competitio­n, averaging 22 disposals a game compared with 27 in his dominant 2020 season.

He had 27 disposals in Saturday’s 19-point loss to the Bulldogs in Ballarat.

Neale was on limited duties during Brisbane’s training session on Tuesday at the Gabba as he deals with the ongoing issue.

Leading into this weekend’s clash with Essendon at the Gabba, Neale admitted he was trying to play through the back complaint.

“It’s hard to put an exact percentage on (how my body is feeling),” Neale said.

“Not 100 per cent, but good enough to play.

“I’m playing and it’s improving every week.

“I won’t go into too much detail but I’ve put my hand up to play the last few weeks and been able to get through the game.

“Once you do that, you’re deemed fit.

“I’m sure there’s guys carrying little things around the comp.”

The Lions gun refused to use the issue as an excuse for his drop in performanc­e in the opening four rounds of the season.

Neale said the niggle was only affecting his ability to train with the team and he was confident it was something he could overcome.

“I’m able to shelve that pretty quickly out on the field,” he said.

“I have a responsibi­lity to perform and try to win a game of footy with my teammates.

“To be honest, the thing it is affecting the most is my ability to train consistent­ly.

“That’s been the most frustratin­g part but I’m able to play so that’s also an important thing. It’s not getting worse.”

Brisbane’s star player is no stranger to being targeted by opposition players but he does not believe he is attracting any extra attention.

“Probably not compared to the previous couple of seasons,” he said.

“I’m not playing my best footy at the moment, but I feel like I’m getting towards that.

“I felt like I was much cleaner and more involved on the weekend.”

Ihavea responsibi­lity to perform and try to win a game of fo oty with my teammates LIONS STAR LACHIE NEALE ON PLAYING THROUGH PAIN

 ??  ?? Lions star Lachie Neale in action during Brisbane’s loss to the Western Bulldogs at Mars Stadium in Ballarat. Picture: Getty Images
Lions star Lachie Neale in action during Brisbane’s loss to the Western Bulldogs at Mars Stadium in Ballarat. Picture: Getty Images

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