‘Not where I’d hoped’: Rozee eyes return to form — and a flag
Connor Rozee pays little attention to outside opinions about his football.
"I don't read that much in terms of media so people are always going to put external expectations on you," Rozee tells The Advertiser.
"I know what's expected of me from the coaches and internally from the club."
This time last year, Rozee was one of the most talked-about youngsters in the league.
He had hit the ground running after being drafted fifth at the end of 2018, finishing his debut season as runner-up in the Rising Star Award, the Power's top goalkicker with 29.22 and fourth in the club's best and fairest.
But most pundits would agree, Rozee's performances dropped away in 2020.
The 21-year-old concedes his form "was definitely not where I'd hoped".
A key factor behind that was tearing part of his plantar fascia on his right foot in Round 7, which restricted the change of direction and explosiveness of a player known for those traits.
Injury aside, Rozee, who booted 9.9 last year, was not as consistent as he wanted.
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"My first couple of games were pretty good and then I probably had a bit of a drop in form just before the injury, which didn't help," says Rozee, whose training schedule may need easing at times in 2021 due to his foot issue.
"Then the second half of the season was trying to get my foot right and get going.
"Even though I probably wasn't having as big an impact on the scoreboard as my first year, I was still able to play my role and still have a positive impact on the game.
"It wasn't like I was playing terribly, I just felt like I could do a couple of small things better, which I did later in the season.
"It's just getting back to what the coaches want me to do and external expectations will take care of itself."
Rozee felt he had some of his spark back in the preliminary final.
That night, he zipped around the field, kicked multiple goals for only the second time last season and looked like being the matchwinner.
But the Tigers prevailed by six points.
"I think I was starting to get back to feeling almost 100 per cent," he says of the game.
"I got a bit of confidence back and was just starting to build, so hopefully I can continue that at the start of this season."
The question that has followed Rozee all summer is will he play more in the midfield?
"I get asked it a fair bit but it's another one where everyone on the outside seems to be really interested in," he says.
"On the inside, it really depends on the game and the situation.
"I've been training a little bit more in there but that's the same as last pre-season."
Rozee says the club has such a strong on-ball group, he definitely will not spend 80 or 90 per cent of games among it.
In the Power's internal trial this month, he split time between attack and the centre square on his way to a six-goal haul.
"I'd like to think I can have an impact forward and in the midfield, so it'll probably be similar to last year where I float in between," he says.
The main question that has been asked about Port Adelaide this pre-season is: will the club win the premiership?
For the second year running, the Power is not shying away from its flag goal.
Coach Ken Hinkley is again leading the messaging.
Last February Hinkley said "look out, we're ready" for a premiership tilt, while this year he insisted "we're ready".
Critics will be ready to pounce if Port Adelaide struggles this season but Rozee loves Hinkley and the club's openness.
Rozee also believes the team's experience from last season, plus the addition of Aliir Aliir and Orazio Fantasia, have it primed for success.
"It obviously puts expectations on the players but we've got those expectations ourselves so I don't think there's any point hiding behind trying to say 'we just want to make finals and see what happens'," he says.
"The fact is we want to win a premiership and we want to do it this year."
Originally published as 'Not where I'd hoped': Rozee eyes return to form - and a flag