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THE rise of Dayne Zorko’s career sees him on the verge of being named in the All-Australian team for the first time.
After initially being overlooked for the 2007 draft mainly due to his diminutive stature, he must be making a big impression with the All-Australian selectors this year.
In a season where the positive focus on the Lions is mainly around their exciting youth, Zorko continues to be a fan favourite at the Gabba.
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His obvious talent wasn’t enough to be drafted in his teenage years but was enough to rack up four Best and Fairests for Broadbeach by the age of 22.
It wasn’t until he’d won his fourth that Zorko reappeared on the AFL radar.
The penny had dropped, a lift in fitness and in turn work rate, ensured the Broadbeach captain finally got the call.
The Gold Coast Suns claimed him as a Queensland zone selection only to immediately on-trade him north.
Zorko made an instant impact at the Gabba on and off the field and was quickly moved into the leadership group in year two.
Two more Club Champion awards followed, this time for the Lions and he is on track for yet another as his career continues on the up.
Reinforcing what we see on the field with our eyes, a number of key stats would indicate Zorko is having his best season.
Disposals, clearances, score involvements, goals, metres gained, tackles, contested possessions and his defensive pressure, are all, incredibly, at career personal best levels.
His speed worries opposition midfields and demands much attention in preparation to play the Lions.
As we’ve seen on a more regular basis, Zorko will need to learn to deal with hard tags from opposition teams. This aspect of his game has improved since having a rare quiet outing against GWS’s Sam Reid.
Being in Queensland and playing for a team sitting 18th on the ladder, both Zorko and the Lions can suffer a little from the “out of sight, out of mind’ syndrome.
Sunday’s game at the MCG is not only an opportunity for Zorko to press his claims for selection in front of members of the All-Australian panel but also for the young Lions to challenge Melbourne, who are on the verge of their first finals appearance since 2006.
Melbourne is arguably three years advanced in development compared to the Lions list. That being said, the Lions aren’t without a good chance to cause an upset.
Not only have the few Brisbane experienced leaders played a critical role in protecting and developing the emerging stars but they have mostly worked through injury and found some good form.
Expert opinion is that Melbourne will win comfortably but the Demons can’t afford to underestimate this small but elite group.
Combined with the best of the young group’s form and the Lions will push Melbourne all the way.
Originally published as Will Zorko get an All-Australian gong?