WA brothers out to Conca Tigers!
Richmond midfielder Reece Conca, left, has been joined at the club by older brother Luke, who has risen from suburban ranks to the VFL. Picture: Joe Sabljak

The brotherly bond takes people on strange journeys.

So when Luke Conca decided to move to Melbourne last year to be closer to his younger brother Reece, the prospect of both men wearing a Richmond jumper wasn't even on his mind.

Luke, 23, was a talented suburban footballer who played for Trinity Aquinas in the WAAFL, while Reece, 21, was a top-10 draft pick in his formative years with the Tigers.

Luke wanted football to be fun and with some of his friends also moving to Melbourne, they joined Surrey Park, a club which had lost 67 games in a row and was in division four of the Eastern Football League.

The new recruits had an immediate impact, ending the losing streak in round one. By season's end the Panthers had won eight games, Conca won the best and fairest and the prospect of a new challenge arose.

Now, Luke plays for Richmond in the VFL, giving he and Reece the chance to both wear the famous yellow and black jumper.

"The club asked me a few things about him and I told them the attributes that he had," Reece said.

"He's a tough, little flashy, in-and-under maniac who is pretty classy and knows how to kick goals. He played some good quality junior development stuff with Perth in the WAFL. Footy is in the blood so they backed in the Conca name and he's played well."

The pair shared Reece's house in Brunswick for the first half of last year, but Luke now lives with five of his ex-Surrey Park teammates.

Reece has become close to the group and now sees it as a vital part of his life away from football. His parents and twin sister Cassie all live in Perth and he said Luke's arrival had given him a more balanced lifestyle.

"Melbourne is so far from home and the weather is different. I didn't know anyone over here so it was pretty different," Reece said.

"Doing almost everything with Luke and my mates back home, it was a fair change. I had to adapt pretty quickly.

"It's good having him around the club and it's a good way to link the VFL and AFL. It's helped with family support."

Being together at Punt Road has strengthened an already powerful bond.

With Reece's talent obvious from a tender age, he sometimes played in Luke's team when they were younger. They also played a practice match against each other when the WA under-16s faced the WAAFL under-19s.

But 2014 is the first time they have been so involved in one club. Luke was nervous when he arrived at Richmond because the standard in the VFL is dramatically different to division four in suburban ranks.

"Pre-season was completely different. The first day, I thought I was no chance and didn't know what to expect," the half- forward recalled.

"But I surprised myself and probably surprised the coaches. I missed the first two games, then snuck into the team and kept my spot. I sort of rose to the level.

"I've actually found it easier to get my own footy this year because it's more structured."

The brothers know that the only chance of them playing together is if Luke gets drafted or Reece gets dropped.

While Luke has enjoyed the step up in class, he's more hopeful than confident of ever having an AFL career.

Reece ignored overtures from WA last season and signed a contract that will keep him at Richmond until the end of 2016.

He is determined to achieve success at Tigerland.

"The club itself is what I wanted to stay for. I think Richmond is going to have some success in the next few years and I'm loving being here," Reece said.

"I'm not ready to go back to Perth yet. The last three or four weeks have proven we're a finals contending side. The next few years will see a steady rise in development."

"He's a tough, little flashy, in-and-under maniac who … knows how to kick goals."" *Reece Conca *on his brother, Luke

The West Australian

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