Five Lions put hand up to replace Zorko as captain
Dayne Zorko has the all-clear to feature in the Brisbane Lions' AFL opener despite the veteran's likely absence from this week's final trial game against Geelong.
A minor hamstring injury has kept the former skipper out of action but coach Chris Fagan said the 34-year-old was an automatic starter despite the Lions' terrific off-season recruitment drive.
"With an older player like him, I'm not actually that concerned (if he doesn't play any practice games)," Fagan said after Zorko trained with the rehabilitation group on Tuesday.
Entering his 12th season, Zorko has battled foot, achilles, calf and hamstring niggles but has played at least 20 games - and never fewer than 16 - in every campaign.
"He's a natural touch player. He's very, very fit at the moment so I'm happy for him to come into the season to play straight away," Fagan said.
"We're just using the time we've got, rather than trying to rush."
Darcy Gardiner (shoulder), Callum Ah Chee (quadriceps) and Rhys Mathieson (hamstring) were also on the sidelines at the Lions' new Springfield base, where they will host the Cats on Thursday night.
Fagan dismissed any concerns about Lachie Neale after the star midfielder corked his quadriceps and did not play in the final quarter of last week's pre-season clash with Sydney.
The club will name Zorko's captaincy replacement on Wednesday, with Fagan saying five players had put their hand up after a team vote to form a leadership group.
"We grilled them for an hour," Fagan, who revealed his panel would make their decision on Tuesday afternoon, said.
"It was actually a fantastic process; it just really showed me and the others in the room that we have a lot of quality young lads at our footy club.
"I've walked away from that with a smile on my face, and we decided we'd sleep on our decisions."
Neale, Harris Andrews, Hugh McCluggage and recruits Josh Dunkley and Jack Gunston had all been mentioned as options, with a co-captaincy model not out of the question.
But Fagan said replacing Zorko would not serve as an instant sugar-hit for last year's beaten preliminary finalists.
"Changing the captain is not a strategy to reinvigorate us at all," the coach said.
"I rate leadership development, and the overall capacity of the team to lead, way above captaincy.
"What I'm really hoping is the fact that so many guys have worked on their leadership this summer ... really reinvigorates us out on the field."