Loyal servant dares to dream
AFL: Dayne Zorko isn't a greedy man.
The Brisbane Lions' loyal servant is a three-time best and fairest winner (2015, 2016, 2017), and an All-Australian after his outstanding 2017 season.
But something is still missing from his career.
"It would be an unbelievable feeling if I was able to play a final ... just one," the 28-year-old told News Regional.
The Gold Coast product has played 122 games since being drafted as a mature-aged recruit in 2011.
But there's still not a finals game to his name.
"Individual accolades are great, but I at least want to play one final before my time is up at the club," Zorko said.
"And I can certainly see that (being possible) in the team that we're building at the moment.
"Hopefully it's not too far around the corner."
Now a vice-captain, the hard-running midfielder forward stuck with the Lions despite offers from rival clubs better positioned to contest a finals series.
Paul Roos revealed this week that when he was first appointed Melbourne coach in 2013, the Demons had approached Zorko's management.
With maroon in his blood, Zorko now deserves to have his wish come true, and he has faith the list the Lions have assembled can get the job done.
With so much young talent, the club is full of "optimism, but we totally understand where we're at".
"Everyone understands what's required of us to start moving up the ladder," Zorko said.
"The attitude of every player is really good.
"All the kids we drafted, not only this year, but the last two, three years, they have a real want to get better ... be it in the gym, at training or playing.
"Those guys have really put their hand up and taken control of their own careers."
Among those to impress with their commitment is last year's top national draft pick, Cameron Rayner, who has already signed a contract extension and will debut in today's opening round clash against the Saints at Docklands.
"It would be quite easy to be a No.1 draft pick, come in and expect it all to happen. There's huge wraps on him," Zorko said.
"But the want to get better is really what's stood out. It's really encouraging."
Zorko is excited by a potent attack headed by Eric Hipwood, dangerous smalls Lewis Taylor and Allen Christensen, who returns from injury, and former Adelaide star Charlie Cameron.
The Lions will just need the big-bodied Josh Walker to stand up and help Hipwood.
"I think his last five games of last year were absolutely fantastic," Zorko said.
"He's certainly carried that form into pre-season.
"I'd like to see him help out Eric as much as possible."
The icing on the cake has been the addition of four-time premiership Hawk Luke Hodge.
"He's been really good," Zorko said of the superstar who will play his first game for the Lions today after 305 in the brown and gold.
"I think everyone is really excited to see what he's capable of doing on the field, but I think the benefits we're getting as a team is the work he's doing off the field, the way he takes the young kids aside and helps them.
"With such an emerging group it's important we have those older wiser heads. He's certainly that."
A mentor to the leadership group, Hodge has also taught Zorko about rational thinking and delivering messages.
"I'm the sort of person if I see something, I want it done straight away," Zorko said.
"He's taught me to listen, take in all the information before making a decision, if there is a decision to be made."
It's all about patience - something Zorko has certainly learnt the hard way.