Gray to lead by X-ample
Power bestow captaincy on triple B & F for new comp
PORT Adelaide believes triple best and fairest Robbie Gray can take his game to another level after issuing him with the captaincy for the inaugural AFLX tournament at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Gray, 29, who is also a three-time All Australian, is the most senior player in the squad for the event, but it will be his first chance to lead his club as he plays his first match since recovering from cancer.
The coaching staff believe it is the ideal challenge for one of the club’s best players to take another step to further his already decorated career.
Assistant coach Matthew Nicks predicted Gray would be more of a leader by example than oration.
“Do as I do — I think there will be a little bit of that with Rob,” Nicks said. “But it’s good for him.
“I think it’s great for him to come out of his comfort zone.
“You wouldn’t say that he’s a natural talker but he definitely leads by example.
“For Robbie it’s a different challenge.
“We know what Rob can do with his footy; this is an opportunity that we wanted to get some work into him.
“We wanted him to get some high-intensity training in and this works perfectly, plus the leadership side of things gave him another opportunity to work on that area.”
Gray’s appointment comes as Port Adelaide will use the AFLX event as its first selection tool as it begins shaping the side for Round 1 of the premiership season.
The club is not taking the event lightly, with competition for spots at a premium after a busy off-season of trading and recruiting. The players will be put on edge in the abbreviated matches as the pre-season begins with games against other clubs.
Nicks said the players had been told of the importance to perform in AFLX, even though tactically it is expected to be played out differently from a regular game of football.
“Sunday next week we’re into the JLT (practice matches) and we only play two JLT this year,” Nicks said.
“So I guess once you’ve got that position, nine-tenths of the law say you’re in.
“That’s what we talk to players about.
“We’ll play a strong side through the JLT with it being only two games ... some of these guys who are knocking on the door will be playing AFLX and it will be an opportunity to stand up.”