If Collingwood wants to rough up former star Dayne Beams in Saturday night’s AFL season opener, they’ll have to get through his new Brisbane Lions teammates first.
That’s the warning from skipper Tom Rockliff, who has forecast an “emotional” night at the Gabba as the Lions prepare to start a bold new era with a bang.
“There’s a lot of emotion in it for him and his old footy club,” Rockliff said on Friday.
“They’ll probably go after him early so it’s important we look after him, get on the front foot, get the footy in his hands and he can have a real impact on the game.”
Not since Brendan Fevola’s first game against Carlton as a Brisbane player back in 2010 has there been such a buzz surrounding the AFL in the Queensland capital, with pre-match ticket sales indicating a crowd approaching 30,000 will be on hand.
At the centre of most of that buzz has been Beams, who has already been described this week by coach Justin Leppitsch as the competition’s answer to James Dean – such is his apparent lack of nerves ahead of his meeting with the Magpies.
But Rockliff has warned the Lions not to “overstep the mark” when it comes to defending Beams, should he come in for special attention as expected.
“You want controlled aggression,” he said.
“You don’t want to be giving free kicks away. You want to set a hard tone and put your head over the footy and tackle hard.
“If we can get our contested footy right we can smack in, get harder and lower than they do and that gives us an opportunity (to win).”
Rockliff already expects Collingwood to be galvanised by the doping scandal surrounding Lachlan Keeffe and Josh Thomas, who face the sack should they be found guilty of taking banned substance clenbuterol.
“I’m sure it will have an impact on them either way,” he said.
“You never know until you start playing.
“We can only control what we can control – we can’t control the way they come out and approach their game.”