Neale’s staggering stats ‘above elite level’
STATS machine Lachie Neale hasn't just turned up at the Lions door - he's blown it off its hinges.
That's the view of Lions premiership legend Alastair Lynch, who believes the 25-year-old has stamped himself a class above in the past fortnight.
The former Docker turned in another career-best haul of 43 disposals against Port Adelaide last weekend to equal his Round 2 haul against North Melbourne and shows no signs of slowing as the Lions juggernaut picks up speed.
Both games marked a Brisbane player's highest disposal count since Tom Rockliff's 48 possessions against Carlton in 2016, eclipsing Dayne Beams' 41-disposal count from Round 18 last year.
"He's been playing at that elite level for some time now and that's expected of him but he might even be playing above that now," Lynch said on Tuesday.
Neale averaged more than 30 disposals per game for Freo in 2018 but the 25-year-old's record this season is even more impressive at 38.3 disposals per game, placing him well ahead of Giants namesake Lachie Whitfield (35) after three rounds.
Of those, 31.7 disposals have been effective, leaving him far and away the most effective ball user in the competition.
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan seemed to skirt the issue of Neale's dominance in his post-match interview, dishing praise more broadly to the likes of six-goal hero Eric Hipwood and workhorse Mitch Robinson.
But he couldn't help admit his star "really lifted" in a stirring second half performance to sink the Power.
A genuine ball-winning presence seemed lost to Brisbane after the successive departures of Rockliff and Beams.
Now, Neale shapes as the perfect foil to Lions skipper Dane Zorko, whom Lynch believes has shown new-found maturity in the midfield this season.
"Neale's going well, McCluggage and Berry were strong against Port and Hipwood got through plenty in the forward line ... but Zorko's work late in the game was really good. His defensive running and pressure in the final quarter was the best I've seen from him, it really stood out for me and it looks like he's entirely invested in the team's performance now."
A sell-out crowd is expected for next week's Anzac Day clash with Collingwood as the hype train picks up speed but Lynch is standing firm on his pre-season target of 10 wins.
"The list is in a pretty good state at the moment and people are playing well in all positions. It's took early to make that call (on playing finals) but they've shown so much confidence and I think they'll keep steadily progressing," he said.