The inspiration behind the Lions’ comeback win

December 8, 2023 BY

Tenacious: Brisbane forward Isabel Dawes has credited a pre-season experience for providing motivation for the Lions’ comeback win in the AFLW grand final. Photo: JOEL CARRETT/ AAP IMAGE

COMING into the three-quarter huddle seven points down and having kicked just three goals for the game, the Brisbane Lions players had every reason to doubt themselves.

But heading into the pinnacle quarter of the 2023 AFLW season, one glimpse of a sign of a modest jerry can was enough to inspire the Lions to a surging victory.

In the end, the 7.2 (44) to 4.3 (27) grand final triumph over North Melbourne was the Lions’ second AFLW premiership and a defining one given they were outplayed for three quarters.

Forward Isabel Dawes, who had 20 touches and a whopping 13 tackles as the Lions broke the AFLW tackles record, said the comeback defined her teammates’ attitude.

It was an attitude that this year started back in the pre-season.

“We did a camp at the start of the season, it was a bit army style and we had to carry these heavy, heavy jerry cans, carry them up hills, just running with them, keep them in line, super structured and it was just a brutal few days for us,” Dawes said on SEN Breakfast.

“We did not like the sight of a jerry can but at the end of it was almost like, ‘look at what we’ve done’.”

“Now that’s kind of our [thing]. We put the sign up, jerry can, and we’re like, ‘okay, we’ve got to put some more effort in now. We’ve done that, let’s put a bit more work in on the field’.”

The Lions’ 109 tackles was also emblematic of the hard working attitude that saw them finish in the top four yet again despite losing four stars over the off-season.

On Sunday, Courtney Holder’s 18 tackles was the most in AFLW grand final history, while three other Lions laid 10 or more tackles.

“We are just so competitive with each other at training. We don’t like to lose to each other, let alone another team,” Dawes said.

“We also just have a really good bit of banter among the group… we just love each other so much. It’s just special that we all buy in.

“My first season with Craig [Starcevich] he was like, ‘when you’re in this team, we don’t want stars. We be reliable, not remarkable, we don’t rely on one person’.

“I’ve just grabbed that since I was 19 and everyone has.”

As for now, Dawes said the Lions celebrations are set to kick on for some time.

“We’ll be riding this wave for the while,” she said.