Adams keen to make his mark
AFL: New Brisbane Lion Marcus Adams has endured a long and difficult road back to the field, but the key defender is finally relishing his just rewards as a member of this season's most surprising premiership contender.
Left feeling "pretty stale” when ankle, foot and knee ailments largely derailed his final season with the Western Bulldogs last year, the talented 26-year-old was sidelined again when more knee problems struck soon after his trade to the Lions.
Arthroscopic surgery in late April meant Adams couldn't even make his NEAFL debut until late last month, and his eventual senior recall in the Lions' 20-point win over GWS in Round 16.
Now three games into an exciting phase of his career and coming off by far his best effort in Lions colours in last weekend's thrilling win over North Melbourne, Adams is keen to nail down his spot in the side as the finals approach.
"Obviously my first couple of games were a bit average statistically, I wasn't as comfortable, the difficulty coming into a new team from a year out of the game was more challenging than I expected,” he said.
"I thought it would be tough, but I didn't realise it would be quite so difficult. Last week I felt really solid out there, I had a bit more chemistry with the boys, I was more settled.
"There's a long way to go and a lot of work to be done. I'm under no illusions about how much work I have to continue putting in. The group is doing well, I'm loving being at Brisbane.”
"Even in rehab, I was having a bit of a tough time for the first six months, but the support of the players, coaches and medical staff was pretty remarkable.”
In facing those tough times, Adams saw something special in the club culture built and sustained on and off the field in coach Chris Fagan's tenure so far.
He found encouragement and support come from the likes of Stefan Martin and Tom Cutler, as well as fellow key defenders Harris Andrews and Darcy Gardiner.
"For a new guy who'd just come to the club, they didn't need to treat me as kindly as they did. They were really special through that time,” he said.
"I think they're an extremely conscientious group of young guys. Everyone gets on with their business for both the club and AFL in Queensland, we understand the role we have to keep growing the game here. There are no qualms with us. We're a strong, united group, which is important.
Arriving to bolster an already strong defensive unit which boasts perhaps the game's best young key backman in Andrews, Adams has found himself tackling new roles since his inclusion - even swinging forward in his Lions debut.
The 192cm West Perth Falcons product's time with the Bulldogs proved him a reliable number one tall, winning two Brownlow Medal votes in just his third career game.
But Adams knows he'll have to be flexible if he wants to establish himself as a key feature of the Lions' plans going forward, when competition for a spot in the Best 22 reaches boiling point.
"My role is a little bit different to what I was doing at the Bulldogs. Harris Andrews is such a star, and we've got Darcy Gardiner down there too so there's a bit more flexibility,” he said.
"We've been mixing and matching a little bit based on the opposition, I've been playing on the third tall or some of the quicker forwards. Week to week we'll see how the opposition lines up. I've gotten used to the defensive system, and defending as a group.”
"As you go on and build form, you find rhythm in the game and it becomes a bit easier. At first I wanted to bunker down and find my feet, coming into a new side after such a long time out.
And what about that big 'F' word Fagan has been avoiding so much?
"We're not necessarily avoiding it (finals talk), the week to week is so hard that you really don't think about it. We're aware that it's a realistic probability. We know it's there, but there's not enough time in the week to spare thinking about it,” he said.
"You can't get too far ahead. It's such a challenging environment., you're getting tested every week, and if you're not on your game anyone can beat you.”