Brisbane players react to their loss to Collingwood in the 2023 Toyota AFL Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

BRISBANE midfielder Hugh McCluggage says there was no way teammate Zac Bailey could have heard the whistle for a crucial free kick paid late in the Grand Final.

With 80 seconds left and the Lions down by just four points, dual Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale was legged by Collingwood defender Oleg Markov just outside Brisbane's attacking 50.

The umpire blew the whistle for a free kick, but Bailey grabbed the loose ball and threw it on his boot inside the Lions' forward 50, apparently unable to hear the whistle amid a capacity crowd of 100,024 at the MCG.


Instead of Neale taking the free kick and putting the ball inside 50, advantage was called by the umpire as Collingwood defended for their lives to hang on for a record-equalling 16th VFL/AFL premiership.

McCluggage said he was yet to watch back the controversial passage of play, but said Bailey would not have known his side had the free kick when he threw the ball on his boot.

"You could not hear a thing out there," the Lions vice-captain said at the club's family day in Fitzroy on Sunday.

"(Bailey) wouldn't have had any idea that the free kick was paid and there's so many decisions throughout a game that can can influence what happens and that's just one of them."

Commentators on the Seven Network's broadcast highlighted the incident, with Hawthorn legend Luke Hodge calling it a "poor advantage" and Richmond great Matthew Richardson saying, "That is ridiculous, they didn't even know it was their free kick".

Lions coach Chris Fagan refused to buy into the debate post-game.

"I didn't know the whistle had been blown by the umpire," he said.

"You guys have got a better feel for that than I have. I'll have to watch the replay."