Tom Rockliff celebrates his first goal in Port Colours. Picture: SARAH REED
Tom Rockliff celebrates his first goal in Port Colours. Picture: SARAH REED

Rockliff’s ready for Showdown return

BOOM Port Adelaide recruit Tom Rockliff has declared he is ready to return from injury and a spell in the SANFL to make his presence felt in Showdown 44.

Handicapped by a pre-season knee injury and a calf ailment in round four, the former Brisbane Lions captain and 2014 All-Australian says his body is now in good shape and he wants to help the Power snap a five-game losing streak against crosstown rivals Adelaide Crows on Saturday.

"I feel that I have found a bit of the footy and some form at SANFL level and am ready to make an impact in the AFL, so hopefully I get that chance on Saturday,'' said Rockliff, who signed a four-year contract with Port as a free agent at the end of last season.

"Obviously I'm a little disappointed with how the season has so far panned out for me but I felt I covered the ground well against Norwood last Friday night and got my share of the footy.

"Now I'm ready to take that to the next level.''

Dual Brisbane club champion-winning midfielder and renowned ball magnet Rockliff has had a modest start to his Power career.

Tom Rockliff celebrates with Sam Powell-Pepper after slotting his first goal for the Power. Picture: Sarah Reed
Tom Rockliff celebrates with Sam Powell-Pepper after slotting his first goal for the Power. Picture: Sarah Reed

After playing just one pre-season game - an internal trial - because of a knee injury, Rockliff averaged a modest 12 disposals and kicked three goals in the first found rounds, with a season-high 19 against his former club in round three.

He hurt a calf early in the round-four clash with Essendon and while he battled through most of the game with the injury, he was spelled the following week and then was given two games in the SANFL to find fitness and form.

The 28-year-old, who was put straight into Port's leadership group because of the example he set at pre-season training, had 29 disposals against Sturt and 31 and a goal against the Redlegs.

"I felt I got better as the games went on and that I started to find some form,'' Rockliff said.

"My best footy is clearly still ahead of me this season and I'd love to get the opportunity to play in my first Showdown and play my role for the team.

 

Tom Rockliff, left, with Dougal Howard at training ahead of Saturday's Showdown. Picture SARAH REED
Tom Rockliff, left, with Dougal Howard at training ahead of Saturday's Showdown. Picture SARAH REED

"It's going to be a huge game, as all Showdowns are, and it's very important as far as the season is concerned for us because Adelaide is a benchmark team and 5-3 would be a lot better result for us than 4-4.''

Rockliff, who averaged 27 disposals in the previous six seasons for the Lions, said the start to his Port career hadn't gone to plan.

But he is confident he will soon return to his best.

"I'd hoped to come into the side and earn the respect of the playing group straight away but obviously getting injured in the pre-season didn't help,'' Rockliff said.

"It meant I went into round one a bit underdone and then I had that little calf complaint.

"Dealing with that and trying to work my way into a new team and the dynamics that come with that has been difficult, but hopefully I can start to hit my straps now.

"I'm sure the back half of the year will be a lot more productive for me.''



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