Daniel Rich, the Brisbane Lions’ ultimate clubman, trained for a grand final he was never going to play in.
- Daniel Rich has played the third most games for the Brisbane Lions since debuting in 2009
- Rich will miss today’s grand final against Collingwood after retiring earlier in the season
- The Lions have not featured in a grand final since 2004, and have not won a flag since 2003
After toiling away without playing finals between 2010 and 2018, Rich’s stellar 275-game career spanning 15 seasons in Brisbane has already come to an end.
Despite losing his spot in Chris Fagan’s best team after a shock round 13 defeat to Hawthorn, the 33-year-old has maintained a selfless attitude ahead of today’s decider against Collingwood.
The booming left-footer took part in Friday’s training session at the MCG in front of thousands of Lions supporters, all roaring when he slotted a goal.
“Daniel Rich is one of the great team men of our footy club,” Fagan said.
“He’s one of the hard-luck stories, unfortunately; he’s just had a year full of soft tissue injury and couldn’t quite get there to be a part of the team.
“The first day I arrived (at the club) to now he’s been nothing but supportive.
“He’s dedicated himself in the last three or four weeks to just be around the team and be a part of the team and encourage everybody so well.”
If not for Rich’s influence, it is possible Lachie Neale may have made a different decision when he left Fremantle at the end of 2018.
Brisbane have played finals in all of Neale’s five seasons at the club, with the co-captain on Monday night adding a second Brownlow Medal to the one he won in 2020.
“We feel for ‘Richy’ that he won’t be out there but he’s been a massive part of this journey,” Neale said.
“Even when I first was thinking about coming to Brisbane, ‘Richy’ was the first one to reach out.
“He asked (Neale’s wife) Jules and myself out for lunch while we were visiting Brisbane and sort of guide us through that process as well.
“He’s been a great friend of mine since day one.”
Rich featured in two finals in his debut season in 2009 when he won the Rising Star award, but would play in just 43 wins from his next 159 games.
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