A three-time Hampden league premiership player is preparing to elevate his game to the next level after signing with a VFL club.
Former Koroit utility Lachie Rhook will play for Queensland-based side Southport Sharks in 2023 after a standout season for AFL Cairns club Centrals Trinity Beach.
Rhook, 24, kicked 75 goals for Centrals and will slot into the Sharks' attacking half when the VFL season - a 21-team competition featuring sides from Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland - gets under way in late March.
The carpenter, who has moved to the Gold Coast, told The Standard the time was right to test himself in the semi-professional environment after three seasons in Cairns.
He expects to start at half-forward with the goal of earning some midfield minutes.
"I have been pretty keen to try the VFL for a couple of years now," he said.
"I thought it was the right time and after having a few chats with (Koroit coach) Chris McLaren and a few other coaches, I thought I'd try my luck at Southport.
"(I'm looking forward) to the professionalism of it and going up against AFL-listed players to test myself and see where I can take it."
Rhook, who played in Koroit's 2017, '18 and '19 flags, said he had settled into life in Queensland.
The chance to live on the Gold Coast and play high-level footy is the ideal mix for the goal-kicker.
"It's probably good Southport are in the VFL now so I didn't have to move back (to Victoria)," he said.
"I am trying to get the best of both worlds to be honest."
Rhook knows cementing a spot in a team laden with former AFL players will be a challenge.
"I have to work really hard. They have a great list and were in the grand final last year," he said.
"I just have to put my best foot forward at training. I am trying to get a bit more consistent in games and trying to keep that all season."
Southport, as one of only three Queensland-based teams in the VFL and the only standalone one with no AFL affiliate, will fly almost every second week for games.
It's something Rhook is excited to embrace as it mimics an interstate AFL team's schedule.
"It will be a big challenge but it will be good and hopefully I'll get a few games down in Melbourne so the family can come and watch because they haven't really been able to watch me play for three or so years and I know how much they love it," he said.
Rhook will come up against fellow Hampden league exports in the VFL including ex-Collingwood midfielder Jay Rantall who will play for Footscray in 2023.
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