On the eve of earning life membership at Brisbane, veteran defender Ryan Lester has opened up about the club's cultural shift and the repeated doubts he'd have a long career.
Lester will run out for the 150th time on Saturday when the Lions travel south to Metricon Stadium to face Gold Coast in the QClash.
Coincidentally, Lester also played his 50th and 100th games against the Suns – both wins for the Lions.
His upcoming milestone, coupled with 10 years of service, makes the 28-year-old eligible for life membership.
Lester has ridden a rocky path, entering the league in 2011 and playing for Michael Voss, Justin Leppitsch and now Chris Fagan.
He's been in a bottom-four team, now a top-four team, seen a raft of teammates leave the club and been on the brink of being cut himself.
"To achieve life membership at this club is something I hold very dear," Lester said.
"It's something I didn't think I'd get to throughout a lot of stages.
"I've been in and out of the team for a long period through the middle of my career.
"Then 2018, '19 and '20 I was on one-year contracts. Once you get to that older stage and it comes down to between old and young, often it goes the young way.
"Last year to get back in that team and cement a spot and play the best football of my career is something I'm really proud of."
Lester was crucial in Brisbane's finals series last year, keeping close tabs on Jack Riewoldt and Patrick Dangerfield to cement a new two-year contract and become a 2021 regular.
He said Fagan's appointment as coach, along with David Noble's as football manager, helped turn the club's culture around.
Always a popular player among his peers, Lester set up a gym underneath his house last year that players could visit during the COVID-19 shutdown period.
He said that type of camaraderie would not have happened five years ago.
"I think we started to value people a lot more," he said.
"Not just the output on the field, but the contributions around the club and the values you bring to the club.
"Unfortunately, we used to have a culture where if you did extras and that (home gym) sort of thing it was sort of, I don't know if you can say this, but you were taken the piss out of, laughed at a little bit, as if you're trying to suck up to the coaches.
"Clearly that's changed now and those behaviours are encouraged and therefore you see more of it.
"It's something that's really changed around the club."
What's also changed is the Lions are now winners, something Lester wants to continue on Saturday.
"We probably like to think we're the main team in Queensland.
"We like to hold our ground and hopefully continue to win more QClash games than we lose."