Former Brisbane Lions captain Tom Rockliff admitted surprise at his inclusion in Port Adelaide’s leadership group before playing a game for his new AFL club.
Benalla boy Rockliff, who was deposed as Lions skipper after the 2016 season, joins a seven-man leadership group under Travis Boak, who will captain Port for a club-record sixth consecutive year.
Rockliff said he had felt a fresh lease on life since leaving Brisbane at the end of last season.
‘‘The hunger from this group, I haven’t been a part of for a number of years now, I don’t think, they really want success here,’’ Rockliff, 30, said yesterday.
Rockliff, whose leadership was questioned in some quarters at Brisbane, admitted some surprise at being voted into the leadership group by his new teammates.
‘‘I came in with no expectations to be in this role,’’ he said.
But skipper Boak said there was no doubt Rockliff deserved a leadership role.
‘‘I knew he was good,’’ Boak said.
‘‘But now I have seen why he has been a quality player in the competition for a long time and why he has been a captain of a club.’’
Rockliff said he did not feel he had anything to prove to critics of his leadership style at Brisbane, where he was captain in 2015 and 2016.
‘‘There is no doubt going to be pressure to perform, but it’s AFL footy, you have got perform week-in, week-out — it doesn’t matter which club you’re at,’’ he said.
‘‘I suppose there is different pressures at different clubs, so I feel rejuvenated and refreshed and I feel like I have a new lease on life.
‘‘And I think my footy will really blossom this year amongst this playing group.’’
Rockliff noted a hunger for success at Port, who were beaten elimination finalists last year.
‘‘I have come from the environment that is a developing one ... that is just where Brisbane are at,’’ he said.
‘‘Port is at a different end of the scale.
‘‘They have been in finals footy and thereabouts, they have had the hurt of last year and that no doubt still burns inside them.
‘‘I have come in fresh and seen that from an outsider’s point of view.’’
Ex-Gold Coast forward Charlie Dixon is also in Port’s leadership group for the first time.
Echuca midfielder Ollie Wines has been re-appointed vice-captain with Brad Ebert, Hamish Hartlett and Tom Jonas retaining spots in the group.
The sole exclusion from last year’s group is Jackson Trengove, who has joined the Western Bulldogs.