DAYNE Zorko's move to half-back has tongues wagging among Brisbane supporters.
Why would he move there now after 200-plus games as a midfielder and fresh off his fifth best and fairest?
Scott Pendlebury has done likewise at Collingwood after a glittering career in the middle. He's dabbled behind the ball before, but this move seems more sustained.
Josh Kennedy – a man who John Longmire surmised had attended more centre bounces than any player in the past decade – is now also spending time at half-back and on the wing.
This trio of Therabody AFL All-Australians are not the first leaders, by either title or nature, to be shifted out of the midfield late in their careers, but it's certainly noticeable when so many do it over such a short period of time.
Jack Ziebell has made a similar move for North Melbourne over the past 12 months, while Dyson Heppell has also found a home there at Essendon after spending so much of his earlier career in the middle of the ground.
The man who in some ways paved the way in modern times, Luke Hodge, believes there's two main reasons these moves happen.
"One, for leadership, and two, it prolongs your career," Hodge told AFL.com.au.
"That's what Clarko [former Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson] told me too, playing wing or half-back will prolong your career. Playing 15 years bash-and-crash in the midfield will shorten it."
Hodge had the ultimate experience when he changed positions and says part of the art came in the sales pitch.
He wasn't as late in his career as Zorko, Pendlebury or Kennedy, but he was a No.1 draft pick who was forging a name for himself as a 25- or 30-disposal-a-game midfielder.
Clarkson came to him late in the 2008 season with Hawthorn entrenched in the top four and eyeing off an unexpected premiership.
"We had a pretty one-dimensional midfield with (Brad) Sewell, (Jordan) Lewis, (Sam) Mitchell and myself, very similar in-and-under type players at the time," he said.
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"Lewi went on to become a good winger and myself and Mitch rotated at half-back and mid, but at the time we were all similar.
"I played a lot of half-back as a junior and even my first year was at half-back.
"When Clarko initially suggested it, I was like 'why, I'm going ok in the midfield?'
"Clarko dangled the carrot that we could keep doing what we were doing, or we could move me to half-back and I could help us win a premiership.
"It was a pretty convincing argument. It was Clarko's fourth year with us, we'd been to Kokoda and all trusted each other, so I was fine with the move."
In that instance, Hodge said it was about re-jigging the midfield, but also provided a different way to start Hawthorn's ball movement with his incisive left boot.
Obviously it worked, as over the next three months the Hawks stormed to a premiership, upsetting Geelong in the decider with Hodge winning the Norm Smith Medal.
He would fluctuate between mid and forward for the remainder of his career, until the final seasons when he was permanently stationed in defence.
Mitchell was a pure midfielder who also went back, elongating his career with his clever ball use and ability to read the play in front of him.
"As you get older you understand the game a bit more and your preference goes from getting the ball and doing the best you can for yourself to doing what you can to help your team win," Hodge said.
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"If you have to step out of the spotlight, that's what you do."
Hodge said the leadership component cannot be underestimated.
He said Pendlebury's shift has made a clear difference for the Magpies, with his ball use complementing the intercepting of Darcy Moore and Jeremy Howe and the run-and-carry of John Noble.
Brisbane got a glimpse of Zorko's weapons against Essendon last Saturday, with his 33 disposals gaining a decisive 611m from only 71 per cent of game time.
"It's an exciting new challenge, one that I've really really liked," Zorko said.
"It's sort of refreshing and a sense of excitement.
"Being able to see the game in front of you is something I've enjoyed. I've really enjoyed the challenge."
Kennedy moved to a wing last Friday night against Geelong after previously playing half-back.
All of those teams started 2-0, with their captains (or former captain in Kennedy's case) showing their side a change in positions can help for the greater good.
"Whether it's good leadership, having a good kick or offering speed, they have to be an asset in that area," Hodge said.
"I was able to work with (Ryan) Burton, (Blake) Hardwick and (James) Sicily late in my career, and the mids in front of you.
"The hardest thing with midfield is there's so many patterns to run, which way you have to spread whether you win or lose the ball.
"If you've got someone behind you to give guidance and telling you to run left or run right, it might mean it's an extra second or two to get a spoil or win the ball back for your team.
"When you're in the back half you can sit back and assess and talk to the guys in front of you."
Hodge said there might be "teething problems" defensively with players who haven't spent much time there before, but not something that couldn't be overcome with more training and games together.
"And if push comes to shove and you need a burst in the middle, you can still go in there, like we saw from Pendles last week."
Whether it becomes a trend or not might hinge on the success of the current crop moving behind the ball, and only time will tell, but it makes for a fascinating experiment in the meantime.