FROM the moment Connor Rozee stepped into Port Adelaide, he was given licence to play his way. Fly for your marks. Go for your goals. Shimmy past opponents. Try things you know you can pull off, even if it doesn't always work.
And as the Power youngster gears up for Friday night's preliminary final against Richmond, Rozee won't be straying from the advice of coach Ken Hinkley that has made him one of the AFL's emerging stars.
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"Pretty much as soon as I walked in the door Ken said 'There's going to be a lot of new things you're going to have to learn and a lot of structures different to what you've previously played under, but the main thing is we want you to bring your strengths'," Rozee told AFL.com.au.
"The main reason they draft players is because they've got strengths they can bring to the team and if they can bring those strengths it will make us a better team.
"That's what he told me from day one and is what has made me a better player since then."
Rozee, Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma – the Power's three first-round picks from the 2018 NAB AFL Draft – have come to symbolise Port's turnaround from middle-of-the-road to premiership challengers.
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Brash, confident, fast, skillful, tough and competitive, the trio burst onto the scene last season and have taken strides in different ways in 2020.
Butters was selected in the All-Australian squad of 40, Duursma bounced back from being omitted to play a key role in the Power's qualifying final win over Geelong and Rozee was developing his game in the midfield before a foot injury changed the course of his year.
Port knows its youth goes beyond the trio, including the more experienced Dan Houston, Sam Powell-Pepper and Darcy Byrne-Jones as well as the untried Miles Bergman and Dylan Williams, and Rozee said the club had emboldened them to push their abilities.
"The way we as young people play our best footy is by instinct and naturally taking the game on and that's how we bring our strengths," he said.
"We're all pretty quick, skillful sort of players so being able to play a bit more naturally without having to worry about external things as much has been good for us and good for our learning coming through the AFL.
"We've got a lot of time to learn about structures and that sort of thing but it's been just to go out and play footy and have fun."
Rozee, who finished second in last year's NAB AFL Rising Star and fourth in Port's best and fairest after booting 29 goals in his debut season, has had new challenges in his second season.
Firstly it was about growing his game further up the field, playing as a midfielder for the Power. Then, in round seven against Carlton, the 20-year-old suffered a plantar fascia injury in his foot which is still not fully healed as the Power dial up their premiership pursuit.
"I haven't been as consistent as I was last year. I had a few issues with the foot so I haven't been at 100 per cent for a couple of months now," he said.
"In saying that I'm still happy to be part of a successful team and if that means I have to take a little bit of a back seat and not play as big of a role as I did last year then I'm happy to do that because we're going deep into finals and I'd rather have team success than personal success, that's for sure."
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Rozee played three games with the help of painkillers following the injury before he had a four-week break to nurse his foot into better shape, and he has returned to a more forward role since getting back into the side.
For now Rozee is fully focused on the end of this season. Port's players split into small groups to watch the Tigers overcome St Kilda in last week's semi-final and are ready to take on the reigning premiers at Adelaide Oval.
Port's style is built to stand up in finals and Rozee, who played in North Adelaide's senior SANFL flag as an 18-year-old before arriving at the Power, said he had wondered about what it would be like to taste glory at AFL level, too.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it. I think everyone in this situation likes to dream a little bit, and it's been a dream since I was a little kid, so to be two games away from winning a flag is exciting and there's a whole lot of emotions that come with it," he said.
"But I know we've still got a huge task to come. Richmond are a great finals team and we haven't played finals in a couple of years.
"It's really exciting, some of the boys have never played AFL finals in their life so they've let me know these opportunities don't come around all the time and we've got to try and make the most of this opportunity because we might not get another shot at it."