LUKE SURMAN grew up idolising Chad Cornes because of the “mongrel” he showed on the field, and the new Port Adelaide recruit is promising to “throw his weight around” in a similar fashion when he suits up for the club in the SANFL this season.
Surman has come across from Norwood for the 2021 campaign, after 18 games and 27 goals with the Redlegs.
The 23-year-old grew up as a die-hard Port Adelaide supporter and has enjoyed his first few weeks at Alberton.
“The facilities are fantastic, the players are really welcoming and that’s massive when you come to a new club, and that has made me feel at home straight away,” Surman told portadelaidefc.com.au.
“Shane Grimm presented a proposition to me about coming to the club and the thought of using the facilities and running around with the AFL boys from time to time really appealed to me.”
Drafted in 2015 as a teenage rookie by Hawthorn, the basketball convert felt homesick and ill-equipped to deal with the rigours of AFL football and organised a release from his contract in May 2017.
With the benefit of time and maturity, the 196cm 111kg key position player is now ready to commit himself to his footy.
“When I left Hawthorn, there was an element of home sickness to it but I was 17 at the time I was drafted and hadn’t grown up playing a lot of footy and didn’t know how it all works,” he explained.
“A lot of kids come through the juniors and the AFL and state set-ups so they know what it’s all about.
“I wasn’t ready for it mentally or physically at the time and didn’t have the patience to see it through.
“I feel like the passion and desire is there and it’s even stronger now with having to show some resolve.”
And seeking another shot at AFL level is firmly in his sights.
“I didn’t want to shy away from it anymore that I want to have another go. I’ve been there before and done that, and decided to walk away from it on my own terms,” Surman said.
“I’ve decided that I want another opportunity and coming across to Port has shown that I’m committed to giving it another go and putting myself out there.”
At Norwood, Surman was part of the side which won the 2019 Reserves Premiership, taking home the Bob Lee Medal as best afield playing primarily in the ruck.
But he expects a different role with the Magpies.
“I think I’ll be that stay-at-home key forward but I have the ability to go and be a back-up ruckman as well,” Surman said.
“I’m hoping to be that bigger body in the forward line to help the young guys like Ollie Lord develop.
“Playing in this system, I just want to play my part in it.
“I don’t want to put lofty expectations on myself but I know what I’m capable of and being 23 now, I’m coming into that phase where it’s time to start throwing my weight around in this competition.”
Surman will need to get himself fit first. He had surgery to clean out some cartilage in his left knee but has begun training and hopes to be running properly and joining in on drills within the next month.
And despite making the switch from Port Adelaide’s arch-rival Norwood, Alberton has a familiar feel.
He played junior football with Pete Ladhams, state football with Riley Bonner, knows Tom Jonas and Orazio Fantasia from their time at Norwood and is also familiar with Ryan Burton from their time together with the Hawks.
And there is a family history as well.
“My uncle Michael Lipson played out here as a junior and played some reserves footy with Shane Grimm and I think they won a reserves premiership as well,” Surman explained.
“It’s my Mum’s younger brother and their side of the family has always been around Alberton.”