AFL 7 months ago

Rockliff's attitude impresses Lions coach

  • Rockliff's attitude impresses Lions coach

    ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 06: Tom Rockliff of the Lions looks on while warming up during the round 20 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the Brisbane Lions at Adelaide Oval on August 6, 2016 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)

Tom Rockliff kept any disappointment about losing the Brisbane captaincy well-hidden in Thursday night's AFL win over the Western Bulldogs.

Earlier this week, the Lions announced Dayne Beams had taken over as skipper and Rockliff would be one of his deputies.

As the Lions floundered last year, Rockliff had a tumultuous season on and off the field and then there was constant speculation during the trade period that he would leave.

But there are strong signs that better times lie ahead - Rockliff worked hard against the Bulldogs as Beams and Dayne Zorko starred in the eight-point win at Etihad Stadium.

New coach Chris Fagan is impressed, saying Rockliff is showing strong support to Beams.

He added the Lions would have no problem with Rockliff standing in as captain if Beams is unavailable.

"With Tom, he copped a lot of criticism last year - some of it warranted, some of it unwarranted," Fagan said.

"What he's done over the pre-season to prepare himself, his attitude around the players, he very much deserved the vice-captaincy.

"I think he'd be a little bit disappointed he missed out on the captaincy, but he's made huge ground.

"HIs brand is in a much healthier place right now than what it is was five or six months ago."

While the Bulldogs were well under strength, Fagan was pleased with how his team moved the ball and then found a way to win when the Bulldogs challenged late in the game.

For the lowly Lions, right now a win is a win and this was timely, given they have their Melbourne family day on Saturday at the MCG

"It's good to come on the road, win a game of footy against a great opposition ... albeit we know they had a number of players out, but you still have to do it," Fagan said.

"It's a habit, isn't it, and it's good to start that habit.

"We have a long way to go this year, but it just reminds them of what it feels like."

Of their youngsters, Harris Andrew was strong in defence, while forwards Eric Hipwood and Michael Close showed good signs.

But what Fagan wants most is a more positive and aggressive attitude from his team.

"I encouraged them to keep going and try to crush the opposition, because we have to have that mindset," Fagan said of the halftime message.

"We can't worry about teams coming at us - we have to think about what we can do to put this game away.

"We weren't quite able to do it, but that's the language we're going to continue to use."

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