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Zorko: 'I'd say Hodgey will play'

Luke Hodge is set to be unveiled in Sunday's JLT Community Series clash against Gold Coast as the Lions ready themselves for round one.

The three-time Hawthorn premiership skipper was one of several senior Lions who missed last week's pre-season loss to Sydney in Queensland.

However, teammate Dayne Zorko, who will also return for the Lions this weekend in Southport, said the 33-year-old has provided an invaluable boost for the club.

"I'd say 'Hodgey' will play. He's had a really fantastic pre-season, the work that he's done with our defence and just off-field the standards he brings have been such a great improvement," he told AFL Media.

"There's no wonder why Hawthorn had such great success with the standards he has, so for him to bring that in for a club that's hopefully on the move has been so beneficial for us. I expect him to play this weekend."

Zorko sat in the coaches' box last week and watched as the Swans comfortably beat the Lions by 55 points, with No.1 pick Cameron Rayner making his debut.


The exciting half-forward was quiet in the defeat, notching five disposals and a behind, but Zorko said the teenager's attitude had stood out so far in his time in Brisbane.

"He's an exciting young player. It can be easy as a round one pick coming in and thinking you know the game and expecting so much, but Cam's been the complete opposite," he said.

"He's got to work straight away, followed up with coaches and is trying to improve like the rest of the players are. I think that's a really promising sign for a kid the age of Cam, only 18, to want to come in and improve straight away. It's a great attribute to have."

Rayner has already re-signed with the club for an extra two years, meaning he is tied to the Lions until the end of 2021, and his signature is among a host of young players to have recommitted to Brisbane in recent months.

Victorian trio Alex Witherden, Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Berry – all 2016 draftees – have also extended their stay at the club, and the Lions have also been able to secure Hodge and Charlie Cameron (from Adelaide) in trade deals.

Zorko, who is yet to play in a final with the Lions, said he feels the mood has shifted for last year's wooden spooners.

"David Noble and Chris Fagan have got a lot to do with that. The culture that we have around the club is a really great family environment and we've seen that. Hopefully, the tide is turning. I certainly sense that" he said.

"But now the important part is producing that on weekends and trying to get wins. You know what wins do for a team and individuals so that's what we're striving towards. We know it's a long road but we're confident if we keep improving more blokes will sign and want to come to our club."

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs