Stand-in skipper happy to turn up heat on Brisbane Lions
BRISBANE pocket rocket Dayne Zorko has been left on the verge of breathing fire twice this season.
Once, almost literally, when he took part in a Mozzie Challenge for Lions TV that had him and teammates Lewis Taylor and Josh Green forced to eat as many Ghost Chilli Chicken Wings as they could in six minutes at a Brisbane eatery.
"That was pretty hot," a smiling Zorko recalled to APN this week. "I won't lie, that was extremely hot. Very uncomfortable for the mouth."
The other was, figuratively speaking, after the Lions had been humiliated by North Melbourne to the tune of 82 points at Etihad Stadium in round two.
Zorko, the stand-in captain for an injured Tom Rockliff, savaged his team for its lack of pressure.
While he admitted he may have worded his comments "a little better" if he had his time again, he believes they had the desired effect.
"It's just really disappointing when you put in such a really strong pre-season and then dish up performances like we did in those first few rounds," Zorko said. "We felt like we really let ourselves down. But we addressed that and I thought the next week we put up a pretty good effort."
Few are as passionate about their club and willing to go the extra mile for it than Zorko, as evidenced by 'tackling' a few of the so-called 'Suicide Wings'.
The 25-year-old thrives in the role of acting captain, which he is filling again after Rockliff re-broke the ribs that initially snapped in the round-one loss to Collingwood.
Zorko, who skippered NEAFL side Broadbeach at 21 before being drafted, said while "you get to flip the coin at the start of the game ... I guess you feel a certain sense of responsibility".
"You always want to do your best but there's that little extra pressure being the captain and trying to pull everyone together.
"Once your out there and the game's flowing, I guess you're trying to think of different ways you can stop the flow of scores against or how you can keep the momentum going for yourself."
While there's still work to be done, the Lions (2-8) need only look at their equally young opponent tonight, the Western Bulldogs (5-5), for inspiration.
"They've played some unbelievable football this year," Zorko said of the side that regains Marcus Bontempelli and Liam Picken from injury.
"They haven't so much been the surprise packets, but their hard work has really shone out this year.
"They've proven to the competition that it doesn't matter how young you are, you can still bring pressure and the little things to a game - that's the lesson we need to take out of it."
No doubt increasing performance levels will only be helped by a decreasing injury list.
Key trio Jed Adcock, Daniel McStay and Jack Redden all return for tonight's clash, following Pearce Hanley's successful comeback before the break.
"The bye probably couldn't have come at a better time … I think we had 19 injured at the break," Zorko said.
"We've come back to training in a real positive way ... a lot of boys have put their hands up. The boys have trained extremely well and are really looking forward to getting back into the second half of the year."Hanley, playing his first game of the season after recovering from a hip injury, had 21 disposals in the loss to GWS. "For Pearce to get his hand on the ball for the first time this year - he was really excited to play and I think that showed in his game," Zorko said. "His run and carry was back and he's only going to get better the longer he goes."