Lockie Rayner received a birthday surprised which changed the course of his professional career.
A call from Brisbane Lions Head of Football, Danny Daly, in October last year brought Rayner to the Lions to join his younger brother Cam in wearing the maroon, blue and gold.
“Ever since Cam was drafted, he has been wanting me to come up to Brisbane,” Rayner said.
“With work and footy in Melbourne I was pretty committed, but Danny called me on my birthday last year asking if I wanted to come up to Brisbane.
“I was keen to give it a crack and make a change, so it has been really awesome and I’m enjoying myself.”
The 197cm key position player made his debut for the Lions in the round one, VFL victory over Werribee.
Despite many AFL-listed players available for VFL selection, Rayner has played five games so far in 2023 and is looking to build on his foundation which he has built through the first half of the season.
The departure of Harry Arnold to the Sydney Swans through the 2023 AFL Mid-Season Rooke Draft has potentially opened the door for Rayner.
“The list is very deep and there is obviously a lot of good players,” he said.
“It does open up for me a little bit more (with Harry going to Sydney) and hopefully I can play some more consistent football.
“Hopefully I’ll slide in and try to do what he has been doing for the team.”
Despite not playing in every game this year, Rayner says he feels solidified in the group and thanks all the players and coaching staff for making him feel welcome.
“I feel solidified in the team up here which is good,” he said.
“The coaching staff at the club are great they all want to give you a hand at whatever it might be.
“They make it a very easy place to be around and I’ve always got a smile on my face which is the best part of it.”
Rayner believes him feeling at ease within the group has played a key role in his ability to learn from others.
“It is only my second consistent year of backline football but I really enjoy the challenge,” he said.
“When you play in those key positions you know you’re always going to get a good player.
“The practice matches are the start of the year were a great opportunity for me.
“I know Eric (Hipwood) pretty well and it was a lot of fun to play against him, but you learn so much.
“Eric and Joe (Daniher) are two of the best forwards in the game so anything you can do well on them gives you the confidence to out and back yourself in a game.”
Working in carpentry, Rayner values the facilities that are at his disposals when he comes to training at Brighton Homes Arena.
“I work from 6am to 5pm on the tools, working with my uncle which has been good, he lets me go to training but when we are at work, we work pretty hard,”’ he said.
“The weeks can get long but I am very lucky to come into a facility as good as this.
“I feel like after a big day it is hard but it helps knowing I’m coming into the club.
“I’m getting used to it, early days in the pre-season were hard with the hot days and then heading to work but I think I’ve adjusted now which is good.”