Power enters fray to sign Lions' Tom Rockliff
PORT Adelaide has emerged as a frontrunner to secure out-of-contract Brisbane midfielder Tom Rockliff.
Rockliff is yet to re-sign with the Lions and it is understood the Power have recently upped the ante in their pursuit of the dual best and fairest winner.
Rockliff is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and could walk to the club of his choice, although the Lions remain some chance of keeping him.
Port Adelaide is one of several clubs that have been in regular contact with Rockliff's management this year, but only recently has its list management team begun to seriously consider making a big play for him.
This time last year Port was outside the top eight and in a state of flux. But they have turned their form around this season and are in the hunt for a flag, prompting Rockliff - who will be 28 by the time round one arrives next year - to emerge as a potential target for them.
The Lions deal is believed to be well below what a player of Rockliff's stature would demand from a rival club. The question Port Adelaide is currently contemplating is whether he is worth the asking price. Increasingly, the club is leaning towards yes without a firm commitment either way.
In May he instructed his management to re-open contract discussions with Brisbane, but last month put off talks because it was "best for the footy club".
However it is understood dialogue between Brisbane and Rockliff's management has recommenced in recent days, although even if he decides to stay, it's unlikely that decision will be made before the end of the season.
Port's growing interest for the 2014 All-Australian could create an October scenario where both South Australian clubs are trying to lure Rockliff.
Like the Power, the Crows see Rockliff as one of their primary off-season priorities but whether they have the financial wriggle room to outbid Ken Hinkley's men is less clear.
Adelaide must also consider how to hold on to in-demand youngsters Jake Lever and Mitch McGovern, who are both receiving interest from interstate clubs and are out of contract at the end of the season.
Adelaide was keen on Rockliff last season but cooled around the time of the trade period, prompting him to sign on for 2017 and return to training with renewed vigour, despite losing the captaincy to Dayne Beams.
"The most important factor for me is going to be my family, and what's most important for me, (partner) Sharna and the young fella when he comes out," Rockliff told AFL Media last month.
"That's a selfish way to look at it, but I think you've got to do what's right for yourself ... (and) who knows what they (Brisbane) want?"
If the midfielder departs then Brisbane will be granted draft compensation that would further aid their rebuild. If they finish bottom and Rockliff leaves for a hefty sum, the Lions could have as many as four first-round draft picks in November. In part, that could explain the club's seemingly lukewarm approach to offering him a juicy contract.
Rockliff's form has remained strong this season, averaging 25 disposals per outing.