FORMER Brisbane Lions captain Tom Rockliff has one foot inside Alberton Oval after officially accepting a free agency offer from Port Adelaide on Tuesday.
Rockliff, 27, was also hotly pursued by Carlton, with the Blues rolling out club greats Stephen Kernahan and Chris Judd in a meeting with the All Australian midfielder in an attempt to sway him to move to Ikon Park.
But Rockliff informed Carlton last week that he had opted to join Port, and the Power made it official on Tuesday when they tabled a free agency offer with the AFL.
It's believed Rockliff is set to join the Power on a four-year deal worth about $650,000 a season.
Rockliff is a restricted free agent so the Lions can match Port's offer. But they're expected to accept a compensation pick instead, a selection that should fall at the end of the first round or at the start of the second round, either way leaving the Lions with picks Nos.18 and 19 in the NAB AFL Draft.
Rockliff's agent Tom Petroro said he expected the deal to be finalised by Wednesday morning at the latest.
"As a restricted free agent, the departing club has the opportunity to match [the offer]," Petroro told NAB AFL Trade Radio.
"In all my discussions with Brisbane, I'd be surprised if they were going to match. But obviously they have to do their due diligence and go through the process and fill out the paperwork. But I don't see us having any hold up there."
Rockliff had considered an offer from Carlton, but eventually settled on Port Adelaide.
"Tom's from Benalla in country Victoria, about two hours from Melbourne. He's just had a baby, so there was a lure to come back, so Carlton was a really realistic opportunity for him," Petroro said.
"However, for Tom, he thought Port were a little bit closer from a success point of view."
Petroro said Port Adelaide had earmarked a half-forward/inside midfielder role for Rockliff, working in tandem with Robbie Gray.
Lions coach Chris Fagan, when asked last Wednesday about the likelihood of Rockliff leaving the Gabba, said: "It's not the end of the world."
"You do get a compensation pick if he does go and that will be a good player for sure, because it'll be somewhere in the top 20. So it could be good for Tom and it could be good for the footy club."
Rockliff was put up for trade last year after the Lions' tumultuous 2016 season, but there was little genuine interest from rival clubs.
Rockliff lost the Lions captaincy when he returned for 2017 pre-season training, but after being appointed vice-captain to new skipper Dayne Beams he produced an outstanding season.
The former Murray Bushranger averaged 24 possessions and 6.4 clearances a game (equal ninth in the AFL) in 2017 to finish third in the Lions' best and fairest award. His teammates also voted him the club's Players' Player of the Year.
Rockliff played 154 games for the Lions from 2009-17. He won the 2011 and 2014 best and fairest awards, and in the latter season was named an All Australian.
More to come