Joe Daniher poses during Brisbane's official team photo day at Brighton Homes Arena on February 14, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

TO THE outside world, Big Joe is Brisbane's Big Mystery.

Media shy, rarely heard from in public, Joe Daniher is much more at home in front of 36,000 roaring fans at the Gabba than he is in front of a camera expelling the virtues of his game or his team.

However, speak to those inside the Lions' den, and they'll tell you Daniher is a huge culture driver in a season they hope is two wins away from the ultimate glory.

After eight seasons and 108 games at Essendon, the 200cm full-forward decided it was time for a move away from Melbourne's all-encompassing AFL environment late in 2020, and into the slower-paced Brisbane lifestyle.

It suited him off the field as much as on it.

Daniher now lives in northern New South Wales, out of the hustle and bustle of a big city, happy to commute anywhere between 90 minutes and three hours to training.

Joe Daniher during Brisbane's training session at Brighton Homes Arena on May 16, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

He'll stay in a hotel overnight in Brisbane if he needs to.

"If I ring him, he'll answer. He's not totally off the radar," Brisbane football manager Danny Daly chuckles to

"That's his chance to ring and catch up with family. He listens to podcasts.

"I don't think he's different to other guys. He loves being around people.

"If you didn't know anything about AFL, you wouldn't think Joe Daniher was any different to anyone else."

Behind the goofy on-field smile that follows both his incredible plays and his occasional gaffes, is a man that cares for his teammates.


Daly and coach Chris Fagan describe him as a good one-on-one teacher, someone who is willing, and skilled, at educating Brisbane's younger players.

Cam Rayner describes Daniher as witty and smart and one of the most likeable players at the club.

Like Daniher, Josh Dunkley was faced with a decision 12 months ago where he wanted to continue his footy career.

Similarly, the Western Bulldogs premiership player was considering leaving the all-prying eyes of the Melbourne fishbowl.

With the Lions right in the mix, Daniher reached out to the midfielder with a text encouraging him to get in touch if he had any questions.

"I hadn't had much to do with Joey, but since being here he's one of the guys that you feel like is the heart and soul of the club," Dunkley said.

"To have him reach out early was very meaningful.

"You hear that he doesn't really talk much, he's a quiet man, but the impact he has on the players here is huge and I knew that from afar.

"To have a conversation with him early was great."

Josh Dunkley poses with young fans after Brisbane's match against St Kilda at Marvel Stadium in round 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

On the field, Daniher has flourished this year and is integral to Brisbane getting past Carlton at the Gabba on Saturday night and qualifying for its first Grand Final under Fagan.

He kicked five goals in the qualifying final win over Port Adelaide, taking his season tally to 56, trailing only his 2017 All-Australian year with the Bombers where he kicked 65.


As impressive as his contested marking and mobility has been this year, it's Daniher's defensive efforts, particularly when going into the ruck, that have caught the eye.

It comes following an off-season where he was challenged to improve in that department.

Following a difficult second half of 2022 where he played with a shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery, Daniher was told he needed to improve his defensive efforts if the Lions were to improve collectively as a team.

During the final minute of a heart-stopping round 21 win over Fremantle, he dragged down Caleb Serong in the middle of the ground when the young Docker looked set to break free and pump the ball inside 50 for one final push to victory.


It was a desperate act we're not accustomed to seeing from Big Joe.

"We know what Joe's about, and I think that showed the football community what it means to him. I think that meant a lot to him," Daly said of his late defensive heroics.

"He takes his football very seriously, he just shows it in different ways.

"I've heard him in leadership group meetings, line review meetings, all those meetings he'll talk up if he sees things.

"He's easy going, relaxed, chilled out … but when he needs to be serious, he is."

Joe Daniher in action during the qualifying final between Brisbane and Port Adelaide at the Gabba on September 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Rayner concurs. Talking about Daniher brings a huge smile to the former No.1 draft pick's face.

"Joey's a pretty funny character," Rayner beams.

"I feel like a lot of people watch him on the tv and he's laughing and smiling, but he does have that real serious competitive edge.

"He's been awesome to get to know.

"I grew up as an Essendon supporter, so to be able to play with him is pretty cool.

"He's a bit cheeky with his laugh and smile. He understands football and we're very lucky to have him. He's bought a lot of wisdom in."

Joe Daniher during the match between Melbourne and Brisbane at the MCG in round 18, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Zac Bailey describes Daniher's impact in meetings.

"When he does bob up, everyone listens and he's got great knowledge of the game," Bailey said.

"When he does speak up, he's the type of guy you want to listen to."

Next time you see Daniher miss a goal and grin, don't confuse it with not caring, it's just his way of expressing it.

Big Joe might be Brisbane's Big Mystery, but he now has a chance to be its Big Weapon and help break a 19-year premiership drought.