Dayne Zorko plays down Lions hype and demands performance
THEY may look good on paper, but the Brisbane Lions will be keen to show they are just as promising on the turf at Burpengary today.
The Lions have been hyped as a bolter in 2015 after a productive off-season complemented an encouraging end to 2014 on the field.
Ahead of today's first NAB Challenge match against a visiting St Kilda, newly appointed Lions vice-captain Dayne Zorko was adamant "we haven't proven anything to anyone yet".
"We had a really good trade period, picked up a lot of classy midfielders ... but we've got to take it on to the field now," he told APN.
"A lot has been said about the direction the club is heading and how our list is shaping up, but all that means nothing unless we can translate that on to the field.
"Against St Kilda will be a great opportunity to set that up a little bit."
Brisbane will head into the clash at the Moreton Bay Sports Complex, with star recruit Dayne Beams (Collingwood) and fellow new arrival Mitch Robinson (Carlton), as well as Daniel Rich, who returns from a knee reconstruction.
They will jostle for positions with new skipper Tom Rockliff, Jack Redden, Sam Mayes, James Aish, Lewis Taylor and Zorko, and eventually injured pair Allen Christensen (back) and Pearce Hanley (hip) when they return from injury. Christensen, the ex-Cat, is due back for round one, and Hanley mid-season.
Zorko expected today's game would form a major part in helping players adjust to the new set-up, especially after last week's intra-club game was washed out.
"The coaching staff are probably going to have a few headaches, especially Leppa (head coach Justin Leppitsch), trying to squeeze everyone in," he said.
"Everyone wants to play in the midfield, but it's important for blokes to adapt to different roles."
Zorko is also a danger near goal and will be keen to help lead a forward line that is still coming to terms with life after Jonathan Brown.
With Jono Freeman (back) sidelined, Michael Close, 20, is expected to get first crack at the key forward post.
"He's worked extremely hard with Browny (Jonathan Brown) in the off-season to get himself up," Zorko said.
"He deserves it.
"We've got a lot of kids ready to step up and take that position, whether or not they can. They're still young but trying to mature as quickly as they can."
While honoured to take on the vice-captaincy, Zorko said "nothing really changes from my point of view". "I got into this position just being who I am, and doing as the team requires - doing the on-field stuff and the off-field stuff as well as I can possibly do."
Zorko said the Lions had had undergone an intensive training regimen "to get our running base up to an elite AFL standard".
"Port Adelaide has set the tone there the last couple of years," he said.
"I don;t think clubs are scared, but they've really taken notice of what they are doing.
"Hopefully we've done enough to get us up to that level."
The Saints will play 2014 No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin today, but skipper Nick Riewoldt is unavailable following the tragic death of his sister, Madeleine.