Pickings look rich for Lions in 2019
DANIEL Rich will head into the off-season finally daring to dream.
This time next year the Lions might just be preparing for a first finals campaign in a decade.
Rich played his only two finals in his first season, in 2009 under coach Michael Voss.
The solidly built defender, one of the team's leaders, is confident the Lions' promising list has September action in it - and for the 28-year-old it can't come soon enough.
"Naturally, I would love to play finals," he said.
"Even though the win-loss column (5-16) didn't really show it (this season), that constant improvement has been there.
"The way that competition is these days it can all change pretty quickly.
"We had two wins against Hawthorn, who are potentially a top-four side.
"If we can string those performances together for 80 per cent of the season, then we'll play finals.
"The Bulldogs did it, Richmond did it ... they turned it around in six to 12 months.
"You've got to be optimistic and back yourself in going into every season."
The round nine win over the Hawks in Launceston was Rich's highlight of the season.
"We haven't won down there for a long time. Not many teams win down there full stop."
The Lions will aim for their sixth victory when they host West Coast tomorrow at the Gabba. The Eagles will be playing to shore up second place and secure a qualifying final at home.
"We're looking forward to the challenge," Rich said. "They've come out publicly and said that they are going to throw the sink at us.
"We understand they are playing for a home final.
"It's good for the development of our group. If we want to be playing finals, we're going to have to hold up under the pressures of big teams and big moments."
Rich, a former West Australian, has spurned offers to return home and is very much settled with wife Lauren in Brisbane.
The 2009 Rising Star winner and 182-game veteran has often been maligned for not living up to his early promise but has enjoyed his time playing under coach Chris Fagan.
"He's been great," Rich said of Fagan, whose contract was extended this week.
"One of the first conversations we had was about him being adamant that my best footy was ahead of me, which was refreshing and nice to hear ... knowing they'll back you and support you to achieve that.
"I've probably been a little bit up and down throughout the career," added the one-time Rising Star winner said.
"That's the thing that drives me - more the opinion of my teammates and coaches than the outside world.
"If I'm doing what the coaches and teammates want me to do, then I'm walking off the ground happy."