Brisbane youngster Connor McFadyen never expected his first season to be quite like this.
A former Lions Academy member, McFadyen was taken with pick 42 in last year’s NAB AFL Draft and started 2019 not knowing what lay ahead of him.
Fast forward nine months and Brisbane finished second on the AFL ladder and first in the NEAFL after a record-breaking and historic undefeated season.
Quite simply, the Lions are up and about.
“It’s an awesome environment at the moment,” McFadyen told neafl.com.au.
“Everyone is stoked and excited – it’s obviously the first time in a while the (AFL) side is in finals.
“It’s been a good season for the NEAFL boys (as well). Every week we just take it as it comes and hopefully this week is nothing different, just stick to our processes and hopefully we can get up over the Swans again.
“All the club has spoken about is playing at AFL standard every week because each player doesn’t know when they are going to get their chance to play in the AFL, and it’s just about being ready.”
McFadyen has played 17 out of a possible 18 NEAFL games and has hit form at the right time of the year and he looks forward to a first finals series for the club.
With forward superstar Charlie Cameron taking the Kedron and Wilston Grange junior under his wing, McFadyen says he has grown a lot in 2019.
“Charlie is a very good bloke and he’s looking to help anyone at the club,” he said.
“He has been really good for me, looking at vision with me at training and he’s been a good mentor for me.
“It’s been a good year learning off the older players. I couldn’t have asked for anything better, really.”
The Lions’ challenger in Sunday’s NEAFL Preliminary Final is the mighty Sydney Swans, who have made it through to the Grand Final five times.
The last time the two sides met was just a fortnight ago when the Swans led in the final term, only for the Lions to put on the afterburners and seal an undefeated home-and-away season.
McFadyen said he expects nothing less than another close battle against their rivals.
“It was a pretty good game (in Round 21) – the Swans have been good all year. It was good to get that challenge leading into finals,” he said.
“We’ve said we’ve needed to play a bit better than that game if we want to win this weekend because obviously Sydney will bring the pressure.
“Finals are a lot different to a normal game and hopefully we can match it with them and get over the line.”
For McFadyen, the dream of playing in a Grand Final for Brisbane is only one win away, but he has his eyes firmly set on Sunday’s blockbuster final first and foremost.
“I’m not thinking about the Grand Final too much at the moment,” he said.
“But if we’re lucky to make it to the Grand Final then I’m sure the boys will be up and about ready to give it their best shot.”
Brisbane takes on Sydney at South Pine Sports Complex on Sunday from 1pm. The match will be broadcast live on NEAFL TV.
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