By Matt F
After jumping ship in Fremantle and ditching for Brisbane, Lachie Neale is optimistic about his maiden season with the Lions. He’d want to have a big season as the number one midfielder at the club, especially after saying that the Lions were closer to a flag than the Dockers (remind you of anyone, Treloar?).
Lachie is an accumulator by nature, averaging at least 27 touches per game for the last four years, including 30.3 last season. Along with 7 clearances and four tackles a game, Neale will slot straight into the Lions’ midfield and play an important role there. Not only will he take on the lion’s share of the midfield responsibility, he’s as durable as they come: missing three games in the last five seasons.
Lachie is a contested bull, averaging 15 contested possessions a game. Despite missing Fyfe for seven games last season, Neale’s averages didn’t dip at all with the added pressure as the number one midfielder. Amazingly, on the season Neale averaged 111.9, and while Fyfe was on the sidelines, Neale averaged 111.5, barely a drop off. Personally, I was hoping for an increase in his scores due to more responsibilities, however I’ll take an average of 111.5 any day.
You saw this in JLT1, as youngsters surrounded him, and he accumulated at will. Obviously, in a home and away season game he’ll cop a bit more attention, but he was dominant when it came to finding the ball, and was elite when it came to disposing of it. Apart from one subpar score of 78 in the seven weeks that Nathaniel missed, Lachie fought well in his teammate’s absence; chalking up 110, 108, 119, 111, 120 and 134. He has the potential to really big as well, with 7 of 22 games over 120 (with a 119 and 118 as well) These scores gives me faith that he can shoulder the load up in Brisbane, with a young but exciting core of midfielders.
Unfortunately, along with almost every other contested ball winner, the equation is the same:
contested possessions = more handballs = less points per possession.
Lachie was only behind Tom Mitchell for handballs per game (18.9), with only 11 kicks per game on average. For someone who handballed the majority of the time, Lachie also had an unusually high turnover rate, with 4.3 turnovers a game. Once again, this could be attributed purely to having the ball a fair amount of the time (Tom Mitchell led the league with 6.62). Having an ability to impact the scoreboard is very useful in SuperCoach, but unfortunately Lachie doesn’t really possess that quality, kicking only 10.6 on the season with 12 goal assists on the year.
In the JLT, Lachie played well in the Lions’ midfield, but how will that change with more attention bound to be coming his way? I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference, and I have him locked into my side.
What do you think, community? Is Lachie the Neale Deal?