Player name: Tom Rockliff
Current club: Brisbane Lions
Potential club: Whilst Rockliff hasn’t demanded a trade yet, there have been persistent rumours all year that he and the Brisbane Lions will part ways. Adelaide and St Kilda are the two clubs that have been mentioned as front runners for the Brisbane Lions’ skipper.
The original price: The Brisbane Lions got Rockliff at Pick 5 in the 2008 Pre-Season draft, which is one of the shrewdest picks in recent history. Interestingly enough, he was taken one pick before Richmond selected Ben Cousins.
The Good: At his best, Rockliff is an accumulator of the highest quality. His ability to find the ball is uncanny and he is strong in close. Perhaps his greatest strength, however, is his work forward of centre. Jonathan Brown marvelled at his delivery inside the forward 50, and when he rests forward he has shown the ability to be able to kick multiple goals.
The Bad: Two criticisms of Rockliff on the field are that he gets too many cheap touches and that he doesn’t run hard enough defensively. His efforts the other way are questioned but he does try to make up for it with tackle numbers in close. The biggest criticism of Rockliff is his off-field demeanour, where he is said to be too harsh on the younger players and not the best leader possible for the football club. He is said to be a bit “old-school” and can rub people up the wrong way.
What his club wants: If the Lions were to trade their captain they would want a first rounder for him, as he has shown that he is a midfielder that can win his own ball and also go forward and kick goals – a valued trait in today’s game. Brisbane have reiterated that they have no plans on trading their Skipper, but the speculation has risen all year and it would be a surprise to see him at the club next year.
What he’s worth: Given his goal kicking and ball winning abilities, it is fair to consider Rockliff in the upper tier of midfielders. He is contracted to the end of next year where he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If Brisbane are willing to get rid of him, now would be the time to do it as they will still be able to get suitable compensation for him.
The off-field queries drive his price down a little more, and a club with a strong culture will be needed in order to make sure he fits within the playing group, as opposed to being the biggest fish in the pond as he is up in Brisbane.
What we’d pay: Pick 22-27
Possible trade scenarios:
- St Kilda trade its first selection overall (Pick 10) to Brisbane, Brisbane sends Tom Rockliff and their second round selection (Pick 20)
- Adelaide trades its 2016 first round selection to Brisbane, Brisbane sends Tom Rockliff and St Kilda’s second round selection (Pick 28) acquired in a trade in 2015.
The Verdict: Rockliff appears to be a fiercely loyal man, perhaps even loyal to a fault. However, the Brisbane Lion aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and face the prospect of losing him for nothing next year when the dollars and the premiership dreams come knocking. Brisbane have already removed their coach, perhaps it is time to remove the captain as well and make a fresh start at the football club.
Star rating: 4/5 – Tom Rockliff is an exceptional midfielder and at a stronger club his deficiencies will be hidden as he will be able to rest forward more and put an impact on the scoreboard.