Matt Eagles is one of the most passionate players at the Brisbane Lions and was justly rewarded with the Andrew Ireland Medal for the best player on the ground in the NEAFL’s premiership win over Southport Sharks.

But what most don’t know is how hard the 29-year-old worked over the past 12 months to even get back on the field.

After making his AFL debut in 2018 and going on to play four games that year, Eagles had to miss the remainder of the season due to an abdominal and groin injury that would later require surgery. This would take months to recover from and was a personal blow for him after finally achieving a lifelong dream.

In 2019 he worked on a modified program to help ease the pain and get his body back to its best.

“I started pretty slow with some niggling on my hips,” he said. 

“I was in all sorts really.”

He was able to push through and be ready for Round 1 of the NEAFL against the NT Thunder and would go on to play 19 games.

“It was good to build some form in the second half of the year and get some acknowledgment for it,” he said.

In the Grand Final 79-point win over the Sharks Eagles had 21 disposals and eight marks (four contested) and five rebound 50s.

He had been worried that in a season where the Lions NEAFL side had not dropped one single game that they could get the yips and fall short when it mattered. 

“It’s unbelievable. I’ve never heard of it happening before,” he said.  

“You always here of stories when they win all year and then they lose the Grand Final.

“I’m just glad we came out on top in the Grand Final.”