Gray to lead by X-am­ple

Power be­stow cap­taincy on triple B & F for new comp

Geelong Advertiser - - AFL - JESPER FJELDSTAD

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.”

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