Abbey Holmes' revelation about Lachie Neale's wife as AFL star breaks silence on kiss furore

The Brisbane Lions captain and Channel 7 presenter have both responded to the controversy.

Lachie Neale and Abbey Holmes have both addressed the controversy sparked by their innocent TV kiss earlier this month, with Holmes revealing on Monday that Neale's wife had texted her in support. Neale, the Brisbane Lions co-captain, kissed Channel 7 presenter Holmes on the cheek after a post-match interview following the Lions' AFL clash with the Western Bulldogs in Round 13.

Neale and former AFLW player Holmes are friends off the field, and clearly had no issues with sharing a peck on the cheek on TV. But the moment sparked some controversy in the days that have followed, with some questioning whether it was appropriate from either party.

Speaking on Channel 9 on Monday morning for Bank of Queensland's 'Vehicle for Kindness' campaign, Neale said: "The fact that it's been brought up a week later is a little bit strange. I didn't really know about it until the other day. It's sort of come as a bit of a surprise."

Lachie Neale alongside wife Jules and Abbey Holmes.
Lachie Neale's wife has shown her support for Abbey Holmes amid the kiss controversy. Image: Getty/Channel 7

Holmes also responded to the storm on Monday, describing the response as "really upsetting". She told LiSTNR’s 'Footy Talk' podcast: “It’s really frustrating for me. Lachie is a good friend of mine, so that’s just something that you do – you greet your friends. Whether that’s a hug or a kiss on the cheek. The fact that this has been blown up out of proportion to the actual incident itself. It's really upsetting for me.

"I don't want to spend too much time on it because, to me, it is not a story. And this isn't the first time that a player who I've got a great relationship has given me a hug or given me a kiss. I've worked so hard over such a long period of time now to build relationships, to build trust, to build rapport with these players and coaches and make them feel like they are in a really safe space when they're with me. And that that's what probably upset me the most.

"I don't want my friends to feel uncomfortable in how they going to greet me or say goodbye to me. That's not fair. I just feel as though [it was] was taken out of proportion massively."

Lachie Neale and Abbey Holmes.
Lachie Neale and Abbey Holmes are friends. Image: Channel 7

Holmes revealed that Neale's wife Jules even texted her to make sure she was ok. She added: “Jules Neale even sent me a message this morning saying, 'I hope you're okay - this is ridiculous'. I'm like, 'mate, I know, Lachie’s a friend of mine.”

Lachie Neale and wife Jules.
Lachie Neale and wife Jules at the 2023 Brownlow Medal. (Photo by Albert Perez/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

AFL legend Leigh Matthews was among those to question the kiss. “You assume they must know each other very well. Because normally you only give a kiss on the cheek to someone you know quite well, otherwise you shake their hand," he said on radio last week.

“I would shake the hands of a woman I don’t know very well. The kiss on the cheek is normally for someone you know very well. I don’t know how well they know each other. I assume they know each other very well, otherwise it’s a highly unusual thing which is why we’re talking about it. It is a first. I’ve never seen it before. Have you ever seen it? That’s why we’re talking about it. It’s quite an unusual one.”

Commentator Kate Halfpenny also called out the moment in a column for The Age, saying it 'crossed a boundary'. “When things wrapped up, there was a micro-second of hesitation from the dual Brownlow medallist," she wrote. “Neale leaned into Holmes. She reacted by snaking her arm around his waist. He returned the favour. She leaned in too, slightly, and they kissed each other on the cheek.

“The interaction was fast and not ick, but it was weird enough for my husband and I to say, “wait, what? This was rare, TV talent kissing or being kissed as a sign-off. You have to go back to Bec Judd swerving from Tony Jones’ attempted smooch in 2016 after her last news bulletin.”

Abbey Holmes, pictured here with fellow Channel 7 commentators Matthew Richardson and Luke Hodge.
Abbey Holmes (R) with fellow Channel 7 commentators Matthew Richardson and Luke Hodge. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Halfpenny questioned if it was appropriate - even though they are mates - because it happened in the workplace. “Still, even if they’re besties 4 eva, when they’re both at work is it a good look to be saying hasta manana with a kiss? For mine, it was too familiar,” she wrote.

“Place and time, people. You’re drawing a wage from this chat so keep it classy. Intrigued, I watched the kiss again a couple of times. Neither party seemed uncomfortable. The incident hasn’t made waves in the media or on socials. But at a time when former Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales is facing a sexual assault trial for his creepy unsolicited kiss on World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso, I think it’s worth asking the kiss question.

"Even if Holmes gave the kiss no second thought, networks and AFL clubs should give their troops a half-time speech: kissing on air is out of bounds. It’s 2024, not a 1970s Christmas party with a handsy boss handing out Brandivinos and murmuring your Prince Matchabelli smells great.”

Lachie Neale.
Lachie Neale looks on during Brisbane's clash with the Western Bulldogs. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)


But Channel 9 presenter Roz Kelly has slammed the 'overreaction'. "This actually makes me really, really angry - really angry," she said. "It was an innocent interaction between two professionals who were doing their job and it's hard enough being a woman in sport as it is, let alone attracting this sort of unwanted attention."

Veteran journalist Caroline Wilson also couldn't see an issue with it. “Why, why, why do you think Lachie Neale kissed Abbey Holmes last Friday night after the game?” she asked. “Is it the same if he’d have shook hands with (Channel 7 presenter) Cameron Ling?

“I saw it and had no issue with it at the time. It was just a peck on the cheek. Did you have an issue with it? And why do you think he did it? Clearly, Abbey has a good relationship with the players. She’s worked on it. She’s been a player herself.

“Lachie had just given an unbelievable performance. It was a good win. He was up and about. He obviously likes her. I didn’t think there was anything inappropriate about it.”