An emotional Tom Rockliff has fought back tears while paying tribute to his cousin, after helping Brisbane to thump Gold Coast by 58 points and boost their hopes of avoiding the AFL wooden spoon.
Rockliff was a standout with 24 touches in Saturday’s 22.10 (142) to 12.12 (84) Gabba win, kissing a black armband after each of his three goals.
Every Lions player wore an armband to salute former Fitzroy player Eric Moore.
But Rockliff had a second in honour of his cousin and almost broke down post-match when asked about his inspiration.
“I lost my cousin earlier in the week – he was only 27,” a teary Rockliff told the Seven Network.
“It’s been a pretty tough week for the family.
“To get the result and get on the end of a couple (of goals), I know he is watching up there, down on us.
“It’s been a tough week but we will fight through it as a family.”
Rockliff combined with skipper Dayne Beams (four goals, 32 touches) and midfield livewire Lewis Taylor (25 touches, two goals) to help Brisbane seal their fifth win of the year.
Lions coach Chris Fagan praised Rockliff for his mental toughness after his inspirational display in such a tough week.
“He had a great game. He is a clever forward,” Fagan said.
“He was quite upset about it. The fella who passed away was only quite young.
“It hit home pretty hard but he held himself together and had an effective game for us.”
Gold Coast led by 22 points in the second term before Brisbane kicked 17 goals to four.
The Lions (5-15 tally) are equal last on 20 points with Carlton and North Melbourne, but have played an extra game.
Since the round-11 bye, Brisbane are 4-6.
“We are hell bent on trying to get off the bottom,” Fagan said.
“If you look at the ladder after the bye, we are nowhere near the bottom – that’s exciting for us.P
“The belief is growing. It’s a slow process; every now and again it takes a hit.
“By and large, they are seeing themselves as a team that can compete, with an attitude of refusing to be beaten or downtrodden.
“Hopefully, that keeps us in good stead as we try and rise up the ladder and, hopefully, our fans can see there is something to get excited about.”