Joe Daniher has pulled himself out of Brisbane's semi-final clash against Melbourne on Friday night in a hammer blow for the Lions.
Daniher, who kicked the winning goal in last week's elimination final victory over Richmond, withdrew on Friday morning for family reasons.
The news came just hours before the sudden-death final between the Lions and Demons at the MCG, with reports emerging that Daniher's partner has gone into labour with their first child.
Daniher has booted 39 goals in 18 games this season, including three against the Tigers last weekend.
The star Lion and had shaped as a key to Brisbane's hopes of progressing to the preliminary final.
He has been replaced in the Lions' 22 by fellow tall Tom Fullarton.
"Daniher has been removed from the 22 for the clash at the MCG due to family reasons," the Lions said in a statement.
"The club supports Joe's decision to be with his family at this time and respects their privacy."
Lions fans were left gutted over the news, but many praised him for making the difficult choice and placing his family ahead of his job.
The Lions have always said family comes first for their players. That they’ve let Joe Daniher go home hours before such a huge game without batting an eye says everything about how senior people like Chris Fagan, Greg Swann and Danny Daly operate at the club. #AFL #AFLFinals
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) September 9, 2022
Couldn’t love Joe Daniher’s decision to fly home this morning and miss his sides elimination final any more.
He’ll be by his partners side for the birth of his child.
I don’t know Joe but would have been an incredibly hard decision to make.
I hope Brisbane wins.
— Will Schofield (@WillSchofield) September 9, 2022
Wonder what Brisbane Lions director Leigh Matthews, who once told his players not to have unprotected sex in January, makes of this Joe Daniher news.
— Daniel Cherny (@DanielCherny) September 9, 2022
Brisbane about to confirm the discussion on @SENCaptainsRun today that Joe Daniher will miss tonight's semi-final. His partner was due to give birth. He will miss under "personal reasons". Enormous blow for Brisbane. Tom Fullarton to come in.
— Sam Edmund (@Sammy__Edmund) September 9, 2022
Stoked that Joe Daniher chose his pregnant partner over his employment. A step forward for prioritising what's actually important in our lives. https://t.co/DnQmLjKr2q
— Joe McCarthy (@ThatJoeMcCarthy) September 9, 2022
Your a good man Joe Daniher not because im a Melbourne supporter but because you know there is more to life than football and to be with your wife for the birth of the first child . You will never regret it . :)
— Pete (@buzzed25) September 9, 2022
Full credit to Joe Daniher for choosing to be with his partner giving birth over playing in tonight's semi final. https://t.co/PL8pSNcYCj
— Simon Chapman AO (@SimonChapman6) September 9, 2022
Brisbane Lions hit by more bad news
Brisbane had already lost ruckman Oscar McInerney to concussion and were forced to recall Darcy Fort.
The Lions will welcome back Cam Rayner and Noah Answerth from suspension, while last week's substitute Callum Ah Chee has been elevated to their line-up.
Mitch Robinson, Jaxon Prior and Rhys Mathieson were all dropped as a result.
"One of the reasons we brought Darcy to the club was because we thought Oscar needed some back-up, and as it has turned out we've needed that in a final. It is good to have him," coach Chris Fagan said on Thursday.
"Oscar missed a game against the Giants a few weeks back with Covid and Darcy came in and was one of our best players. We have a lot of faith and trust in him."
Brisbane are attempting to pull off a massive turnaround in results against the Demons, having lost to Melbourne by 64 in round 15 and 58 in round 23.
"The bottom line against Melbourne is that we have played with unacceptable effort and attitude and we have to change that around," Fagan said.
"There is nothing else to talk about. Mindset is a key thing in every game, particularly in finals.
"Melbourne are the only team this year that have caused us some problems. We've recognised that and we have got to change that.
"What hopefully you will see is a much better effort than what we have produced the last couple of times we've played them.
"I feel confident in our group. Last week was a tremendous win and gave us a fair bit of belief.
"We have won five of our last seven games so our form is not too bad, other than the Melbourne loss."
The winner of Friday night's match will progress to a preliminary final against Geelong at the MCG next week.
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