Brisbane coach Chris Fagan has finally dropped the F word.
It's official: the Lions will break their 10-year finals drought – and Fagan has belatedly acknowledged what the rest of the footy world has known for weeks.
Brisbane overran Hawthorn at University of Tasmania Stadium to win by 27 points on Saturday and remain in second spot on the ladder with a 13-5 record.
After winning just 13 games in their previous three seasons combined, the Lions are now a chance to cap their rapid rise with a home qualifying final.
They have also become the first Brisbane team to win six in a row since 2002, when they claimed the second of their three successive premierships.
"How big a deal is it? It's a while, isn't it. Ten years ago (when Brisbane last played finals) I was in my forties. It would be good to still be in my forties," third-year coach Fagan, 58, joked with reporters post-match.
"It's exciting for the club. I think it's fair to say now that we will play finals.
"Some might have thought that maybe I should have said that last week or the week before, but I always said that we'd have to win 13 games and we've now done that.
"So we've got an opportunity to play in finals, and the opportunity over the next four weeks is to try and stay in good form and play well against the opponents that we have and see how high we can finish up the ladder, and give ourselves an opportunity."
Lions WIN FT | Hawks: 60 - Lions: 87 pic.twitter.com/DIZpaCjBTS— Brisbane Lions (@brisbanelions) July 27, 2019
The Lions play their next three games at the Gabba against likely also-ran Western Bulldogs, cellar-dweller Gold Coast and ladder-leader Geelong, before a final-round clash with rising premiership favourite Richmond at the MCG.
Fagan, though, is keen to keep his players focused on the next challenge only.
"For us – and we just briefly talked about that after the game – we're not really concentrating on anything else other than next week. When the time comes we'll look forward to the challenge against Geelong and Richmond to test ourselves to find out where we're at," he said.
They might well have to make do without defensive playmaker Alex Witherden, who suffered an injury to his lower leg in the first quarter.
"We're not sure what's wrong with Alex. That'll require a scan. It's a strange one, he just felt something sort of pop," Fagan said.
Key defender Marcus Adams received a head knock late in the game and forward Daniel McStay copped a corked hip, but Fagan didn't believe either issue was particularly serious.
Fagan admitted feeling "lucky" to have escaped with the points against the Hawks after winning comfortably despite having three fewer scoring shots.
"By and large I think today's game was decided on accuracy in front of goals. I haven't very often said this year (that) we took our opportunities in front of goal, and they missed some shots on goal that they would every day of the week say they should have kicked," he said.
"I consider us fortunate to win the game, but there have been other times during the year where we've lost where I've considered us to be unfortunate. So this is probably the footy gods evening things up."
Fagan said his team had gained great belief from winning its past four games on the road.
"I'm sure that will hold us in good stead going forward," he said.