Zorko's meteoric rise
Lions cult figure on his new leadership role
Dayne Zorko is determined to avoid the second-year blues after a superb debut season
MORE than a year after getting a late call-up to an AFL club, Brisbane Lions cult figure Dayne Zorko still feels like a kid on Christmas morning.
The 24-year-old described his recent elevation to the Lions' emerging leadership group as a "fantastic honour", and was so excited he could hardly get his words out.
Zorko played 16 games last year, kicking 16 goals and averaging 20 disposals per contest in a stunning debut season.
It came after he starred for four seasons in the NEAFL for Broadbeach.
Zorko was drafted by Gold Coast in 2011 as a Queensland zone selection before being traded to the Lions in a three-way deal that sent Matthew Warnock to the Suns.
The half-forward shone last year with a mix of ball-winning ability, goalkicking and frenetic forward pressure that resulted in more than six tackles a contest.
Standing just 175cm tall, Zorko quickly became a fan favourite at the Gabba with his output and energy.
He has spoken to coach Michael Voss and 2009 Rising Star winner Daniel Rich to ensure there is no "second-year syndrome" in 2013.
"I'll just go out there and play my role for the team and do what I did last year," Zorko said.
Zorko's quick elevation to the Lions' emerging leadership group with other players such as Jack Redden, Pearce Hanley and Mitch Golby was a surprise, he said.
The group sits beneath co-captains Jed Adcock and Jonathan Brown and vice-captains Tom Rockliff and Rich, and are seen as the future Lions leaders.
"I was speechless when I got told. It's great to see my peers think that of me," Zorko said.
"I cannot believe it. I love my teammates so much. It's so good coming into an environment like the Brisbane Lions every day.
"I'm just so grateful for the opportunity they've given me [and] could not be happier where I am."
Zorko said he had no animosity towards Gold Coast after being traded, realising the Suns had a number of young players vying for similar positions.
Unlike his first pre-season – that was derailed by hip and adductor problems – Zorko has put in a full campaign in 2013, and started off in style with three goals in NAB Cup matches against Hawthorn and the Suns last weekend.
He said this Saturday's match against Greater Western Sydney at Wagga Wagga was another chance for the Lions to build on their chemistry ahead of their round one home-and-away meeting with the Western Bulldogs.
"They (GWS) played a really good brand of football (last weekend)," he said.
"There's a lot of development still to go with them, but early on, that's a really good sign for them."
Dayne Zorko is a forward/midfielder in NAB AFL Fantasy. He averaged 94.7 points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy Hub.
Michael Whiting covers Brisbane Lions news for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_mikewhiting