Fagan dodges Scott specifics, declares Neale a likely starter

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan has refused to detail the specifics of his quarter-time clash with Geelong counterpart Chris Scott, insisting that he has moved on from the incident.

Fagan has also declared Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale a likely starter for Thursday night’s rescheduled meeting with Collingwood at Marvel Stadium as the Lions prepare to get creative to deal with their ruck shortage.

Oscar McInerney (ankle) has been ruled out of the clash with the Pies and with back-up Archie Smith also injured and Stefan Martin traded to the Western Bulldogs at the end of last season, the Lions are light on for big men. Speaking on Wednesday, Fagan was coy about just how Brisbane would handle going up against All-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy, but said that increased ruck time for Joe Daniher was a consideration.

“Oscar won’t play. His ankle hasn’t improved enough,” Fagan said.

“It doesn’t make it any easier, but the bottom line is, the battle’s going to be won at ground level. It’s not just about hitouts, it’s about what happens when the ball hits the ground, so we’re going to have to come up with a good strategy tomorrow night to negate that because Brodie Grundy usually wins the hitouts against most ruckmen that he plays against.”

A ginger-looking Neale has had a light week on the track but Fagan said the star onballer should play against the Pies.

Lachie Neale has had a light week on the track.Credit:Joe Armao

“We think he’ll be fine to go tomorrow night, it’s just a bit of a lighter week for Lachie, that often happens with some players and getting them ready to play so he should be fine.”

Fagan also said he hoped that the umpires kept a close eye on taggers after Neale dealt with tight checking from Geelong’s Mark O’Connor last Friday night.

“It’s not just for Lachie, it’s for all midfielders,” Fagan said.

“There’s no problems with them being tagged, just make sure that the tactics are legal.

“I think there were times when Lachie was blocked well and truly away from the contest.”

The Lions, who will remain in Victoria until at least their round four clash with the Western Bulldogs on Saturday week despite the seemingly improved COVID-19 situation in Brisbane, will seek to bring additional players to Melbourne after their match against Collingwood.

The Lions have 28 players in Victoria but Fagan said the wheels were in motion to obtain further reinforcements via government exemptions.

The decision to keep the team in Victoria for a three-round stretch was based on the COVID-19 situation, government advice and a wish to minimise risk.

League sources said the AFL was set to move the Lions AFLW team to Melbourne. The women finished in the top two and have a bye in the first weekend of finals. They travelled back to Brisbane from Victoria last Sunday.

The Swans have an exemption to train in Sydney and there is no issue with their game against the Tigers on Saturday in Melbourne.

But the fate of the Gold Coast Suns, who are playing the Crows in Adelaide this Friday, is unclear. Gold Coast are due to play Carlton at Metricon the following weekend, in round four. The AFL is yet to confirm where that game will be played – on the Gold Coast or in Melbourne, or even Adelaide.

Meanwhile, with Scott having been issued a “please explain” by the league over his run-in with the Lions during the interval on Friday night, Fagan said he had moved on, dodging a line of questioning about what actually happened between the coaches amid varying reports about what transpired.

“I haven’t had any discussions at all with the AFL about last Friday night and from my perspective, I don’t expect to either. Friday night was a long time ago now, lots of things have happened since then. We’ve moved on.

“I’m not going to talk any further about that incident. I think we should be talking about the game tomorrow night. I don’t think what occurred on Friday night was all that serious.”

Fagan said that morale appeared to be strong within his group despite their challenges.

“We were really pleased with the way the boys trained yesterday, lots of energy and enthusiasm,” he said.

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