Ally Anderson in action during Brisbane's clash against Sydney in round three, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

NOW THAT Brisbane has reached the Grand Final, Ally Anderson is confident the Lions can win a second flag, but the star midfielder didn't always have that belief through a rocky 2023.

Unlike the previous three campaigns when Brisbane has sailed through the home and away season relatively unscathed, this year has presented plenty more challenges.

It started during the off-season when it lost All-Australians Emily Bates, Greta Bodey and Jesse Wardlaw to rival clubs, while 2021 Grand Final hero Kate Lutkins would sit the year out to have her first child.

With some new faces to integrate and their 'star power' down, the Lions hit some speed bumps, starting with a round one loss to Richmond.

Another defeat at home in round six against Collingwood – their third loss in four matches at Springfield that started with the season seven decider against Melbourne – and things looked uncertain.

Then there was the horror round nine showing against Wardlaw's Saints that resulted in the team's worst loss since 2020.


When asked whether her confidence in the team wavered throughout the year, Anderson was succinct.

"I'd be lying if I said it didn't," the season seven W Award winner said.

"There were a few games there where I was questioning how far we could go. Then we'd have good wins and it'd be like, 'We are good, we can do this'.

"It's been up and down, but we've learned from it."

Jade Ellenger, Shannon Campbell and Poppy Boltz celebrate a goal during the preliminary final between Brisbane and Geelong at Brighton Homes Arena on November 25, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Anderson said the rollercoaster had made the Lions more "adaptable and versatile".

"It's been a really good thing this year having those downs because it's made us much stronger in the mind and determined.

"We've earned the right to be there now and we're just going to use those lessons through the year to take into the weekend."

The round 10 win over Melbourne to lock up a top-four spot was full of character and class, as were ensuing finals victories over Adelaide and Geelong.

About to contest her fifth Grand Final in eight seasons, Anderson said this one felt a little different to 12 months ago when the Demons sprung an upset.

Ally Anderson during the AFLW round 7 match between Gold Coast and Brisbane at Heritage Bank Stadium, October 14, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

This time last year the Lions were euphoric their new home base had been given the green light to host the final game of the season, while Anderson's W Award added another layer of complexity that won't be there this time around.

"There was so much going on then, and we're in a different position now, going down to Melbourne, so we use it (the loss) for fire," she said.

"We did have a lot going the weeks before, where are we going to play the Grand Final if we get in, even winning the W Award was a bit of a distraction as well.

"We're so focused this week and so excited to go down there."

Brisbane will have an open training session on Thursday afternoon at Springfield, where Dakota Davidson will be put through her paces in an effort to prove her fitness from a knee injury, before flying to Melbourne on Friday.