Port Adelaide has Oppenheimer. Collingwood has a secret formula. At Brisbane, Chris Fagan has pulled multiple motivational levers to steel his side for September success.
Brisbane take on Port Adelaide at the Gabba in the second AFL qualifying final, with Lachie Neale set to continue his form, providing a handy player prop, an underrated first goal kicker for the Power and if Brisbane can continue their unbeaten streak at home in 2023.
Collingwood has a secret.
Every club still in the hunt has its own motivational storyline underpinning its finals campaign.
At Brisbane, Chris Fagan has delved into the psychological aspect of “loss aversion” to power the club’s premiership pursuit.
It is the observation that as humans, we feel the pain of loss more severely than any equivalent success.
Put simply, we hate losing more than we love winning.
And the Lions coach has not had to look too far for the fuel to light that fire.
Ahead of Saturday night’s qualifying final against Port Adelaide at the Gabba, Fagan has made his playing group relive the painful scenes of last season’s preliminary final defeat to eventual premiers Geelong.
They were shown images and vision of the humbling 71-point smashing at the hands of the Cats.
“Part of it is just putting them back there and remembering what that felt like,” Fagan revealed.
“Not that every meeting we have looks at the dark side of things, because there’s plenty of positives to what we’ve done over the past four or so years, but that was our last memory of finals and we don’t want to go back there if we can help it.
“So showing that might help a little bit with motivation and remembering why we’ve done what we’ve done (this season).”
It’s not the first time Fagan has pulled a motivational lever to help the Lions excel.
In pre-season he and the players sat down to watch The Redeem Team – the sports documentary detailing the rollercoaster rise of the United States Men’s Olympic Basketball Team from underperformers to the undisputed best on the planet.
The film’s key message was one of learning from mistakes, putting ego aside and working as a collective to achieve a common goal.
It’s a theme that Brisbane has embraced ahead of its fifth-consecutive finals campaign and, according to Fagan, the best opportunity yet to go all the way.
“We’ve always been a club that’s had a growth mindset. The big thing about growth mindset is you learn along the way and you particularly learn from your failures and mistakes,” Fagan said.
“We’ve been in four finals series now and got to a couple of prelims but haven’t quite got to the big dance, so that’s the topic of conversation for us all year – how can we improve enough to get there and hopefully salute.
“That happened at Hawthorn. They didn’t make finals in ‘09, (were) knocked out in the first week in ‘10, beaten in the prelim in ‘11, lost the grand final in ‘12 and then won three in a row.
“That’s a learning process and that’s what we’ve been through with a very young list and now a quite mature list over the past four or five years.”
The Lions also rewatched a more recent loss this week – the 54-point defeat to Port Adelaide in round one this year.
It wasn’t pretty viewing.
“That was our most unimpressive performance of the year,” Fagan declared.
“They’re a really great side. If you look at their midfield, they have a couple of All Australians in there and a Brownlow Medallist.
“They won 13 games in a row this year and won the same number of home and away games as we did, so we’re pretty even I think.
“(The loss) was six months ago and a lot of water has passed under the bridge. I think (Saturday) night we’ll come out a very different team.”
Despite Fagan’s insistence that Port is a team to be feared, many have written the Power off against the Lions given their unbeaten record at the Gabba this season.
But the Brisbane coach does not subscribe to that train of thought.
“When the good teams play each other I reckon home ground advantage is probably not as big as it is in the home and away season, because the stakes are higher,” he said.
“They’ll be getting ready to come over here and throw everything at us. We know that. We have to throw everything back at them.”