Dead last Brisbane need some good news – and Lions skipper Tom Rockliff may yet provide it ahead of Sunday’s AFL clash with West Coast Eagles.
Stand-in captain Daniel Rich has given the strongest indication yet that inspirational midfielder Rockliff will return from injury earlier than expected at the Gabba this weekend.
Rockliff was expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks when he suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung during their round one loss to Collingwood.
He appeared at long odds to rebound in round four against the Eagles after spending two nights in hospital following the opening round match.
However, Rich said Rockliff was already annoying Lions staff about a fast-tracked return.
It is understood that Rockliff is trialling protective chest gear for a weekend comeback.
As much as Rich has enjoyed the captaincy, he hoped he would not be holding the reins against the Eagles.
“Hopefully I don’t have to and Rocky’s playing,” Rich said.
“Knowing him, he’ll be pretty keen but I think he’ll have to tick a few boxes during the week in terms of the contact and that side of things to make sure he’s ready.
“He’s a tough bugger to go through that.”
Rockliff’s return could not come soon enough according to Lions coach Justin Leppitsch who complained of a lack of on-field leadership during last round’s 79-point home loss to Richmond.
“It’s not something you want to hear,” Rich said.
“That shows where we need to improve as a group.
“Every guy on the field has to be a leader in a different way whether that’s bringing enthusiasm as a first-year player or setting guys up using their voice.
“The top teams do it, so there’s no excuses.”