AFL grand final: Lachie Neale fine but Jack Payne faces nervous week

The Brisbane Lions have dismissed any grand final injury concerns over Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale who “put on a bit of a show for the cameras” when he hurt his shoulder in Saturday’s preliminary final win over Carlton.

But key defender Jack Payne will have to train strongly on Thursday to have any chance of returning from an ankle injury in the MCG showdown with Collingwood.

Neale clutched at his shoulder during the victory over the Blues and said post-game it was just a season-long issue he had been dealing with.

On Monday, Brisbane football boss Danny Daly allayed any fears about Neale, even giving him a subtle clip for good measure.

“He’s fine – it was just a bit of a stinger,” Daly said

“I think he just put on a bit of a show for the cameras to be honest.

“He got about four or five possessions after that. He’s turned up to the club today, he’s in good health, so he’s 100 per cent right to go.”

The same can’t be said about strongman Payne, who missed the win over the Blues.

His replacement, the experienced Darcy Gardiner, performed well, and the Lions won’t hesitate to pick him again for the grand final if there is any doubt over Payne’s fitness.

“We won’t play anyone that’s not 100 per cent,” Daly said.

“We do our main session on Thursday, so he’ll have to get through the main session to be any chance (of playing).

“We’ll give him every chance to get up this week and then it becomes a bit of (selection) headache for match committee … (but) we showed on the weekend with ‘Dizzy’ (Gardiner) being able to come into the team and perform like he did that we’ve had the philosophy this year of soldier replacing soldier, and that’s what we’ve created.”

Daly suggested it was a relief that the Lions had qualified for a grand final for the first time since losing the 2004 decider to Port Adelaide when the Lions were chasing a fourth successive flag.

“We’re just happy to be there to be honest. The club hasn’t been there for (19) years, so it’s an exciting thing for our football club and the journey we’ve been on for the last (seven) years under ‘Fages’ (coach Chris Fagan),” he said.

“For the players to be able to get the job done and put the club in a position where we can jet off to the ‘G’ on Saturday is a really big thing for us.”

Lions star Joe Daniher said the grand final was a “fantastic opportunity” for the club.

“Collingwood is a very big and proud football club and for our side to get the opportunity in the last game of the year is something we should be really proud of, and we deserve to enjoy the week,” Daniher said.

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