Brisbane Lions vice-captain Tom Rockliff says there’s no better time to face AFL premiers Hawthorn than round one.
The Brisbane Lions have a point to prove and bullish vice-captain Tom Rockliff believes they’ve got the perfect opportunity to prove it against Hawthorn on Saturday.
Although the Hawks will unfurl their AFL premiership flag in Launceston, Rockliff says there’s no better time for the maligned Lions to meet a side that’s yet to be challenged in 2014.
“It’s a really good opportunity to get Hawthorn round one … there’s no better week to get them,” he said on Thursday.
“We think the team we’re taking down there will challenge them – we’re going to get in their face and pressure them up.
“We think that throughout the NAB Cup they’ve had it on their terms and we plan to go down there and get it on our terms early and see what happens from there.”
The Lions were one of the teams the Hawks ran roughshod over in the pre-season – belting a greenhorn outfit by 131 points at Etihad Stadium.
Around the same time, Essendon great Matthew Lloyd led criticism of the club by saying Brisbane were in for a “world of pain” in 2014.
But Rockliff denied any scars remained from the embarrassing loss.
“They obviously played pretty well but we had a pretty young team in and we’ve got about 15 or 16 different faces (on Saturday),” he said, adding Brisbane were keen to prove the doubters wrong.
“We’re pretty hard done by at times up here. There’s been plenty of comments made about our group and saying we’re a basket-case.
“We’re not that far away and people forget we were so close to making the finals last year.”
The long-term captain in waiting, Rockliff talked up the Lions’ future under new coach Justin Leppitsch after he continued the trend or recent re-signings by penning a new three-year deal on Wednesday.
It follows last year’s painful losses of youngsters Jared Polec, Billy Longer, Sam Docherty, Elliot Yeo and Patrick Karnezis.
“We’ve re-signed 17 in the last 12 months so it’s a really good sign,” he said.
“It was obviously disappointing to lose those five at the time, and they all left for different reasons, but when they’re not committed to the cause it’s probably best that they’re not here.”