2012 AFL season preview: Port Adelaide
Port Adelaide star Travis Boak (Slattery Images)
Will the Power be switched back on in season 2012? Does anyone care if they don’t?
Last year: 3-19, 16th
Best and fairest: Travis Boak, Jackson Trengove
Leading goal kicker: Robbie Gray (32)
Key additions: Brad Ebert (West Coast), Brent Renouf (Hawthorn)
Key losses: Dean Brogan, Chad Cornes
After winning five of his seven games in charge in 2010 as caretaker coach, Port Adelaide were expected to be a low to middling team in Matthew Primus’s first full season as head coach last year.
Instead, they were just plain woeful.
The Power won only three games all season and only narrowly avoided the wooden spoon by virtue of a final round defeat of Melbourne in the first ever AFL match played at Adelaide Oval.
Were Primus not in his first full season as head coach, consecutive twenty goal losses to Collingwood and Hawthorn in rounds 20 and 21 would have seen him clearing out his desk the following Monday morning.
Instead, Primus remains coach, albeit one yet to prove he deserves to hold the coaching reigns of an AFL side.
In Primus’s defence, the coaching department at Port Adelaide was severely undermanned last season.
Fortunately, the Power have made a number of key coaching appointments in the off-season which will strengthen the brains trust at Alberton and provide some much needed support to Primus.
Former Power hard-nut Josh Carr returns to the club this year as midfield coach. Carr is joined by former Crows ruckman Shaun Rehn in mentoring the Power midfield, and both have plenty of knowledge to pass on after successful playing careers.
Port Adelaide have also secured the services of another former Crows star in Tyson Edwards, who has taken on the role of development coach at Port Adelaide.
On the playing front, the emergence of key forward John Butcher was one shining light for the Power in an otherwise horrid 2011 season.
Butcher is capable of taking strong contested marks in the forward half of the ground, and the Power will hope to use him as a focal point of their attack for many years to come.
Brad Ebert will join his cousin Brett in the Power line-up this season after playing four seasons with the West Coast Eagles. The Ebert name is a famous one at Port Adelaide, and the former Eagle is a handy inclusion to the club’s midfield.
The Power have also added former Hawthorn ruckman Brent Renouf to their playing list. Renouf suffered an injury plagued season in 2011 which limited him to just eleven games last year, and his inclusion in the Power team will help fill the gap left by Dean Brogan.
Renouf will assist beanpole Matthew Lobbe in the ruck, who demonstrated he is a player on the rise after a strong second half to his 2011 season which included 277 hit-outs in his last ten games.
Port Adelaide selected promising youngster Chad Wingard in the 2011 draft, a former South Australian under-18 captain who is courageous and not afraid to find win his own ball.
Given the lack of depth in the Port Adelaide playing group and the emphasis Primus has placed on blooding youngsters, Wingard is expected to see plenty of game time this season.
Not helping the Power’s chances this year is the fact that they play likely cellar dwellers Gold Coast and GWS only once each.
To make matters worse, the Power face finalists from last season in each of their first four matches this year, and risk an 0-4 start less than a month into the season.
The round five clash against cross-town rivals Adelaide therefore looms as a crucial match if the Power are to have any hope of avoiding finishing in the bottom couple of sides this year.
In amongst all the doom and gloom coming from Alberton, there are a few positive signs for the years ahead. The Power re-signed key players Butcher, Lobbe, Jackson Trengove, Justin Westoff and Alipate Carlile to give the Port faithful a little bit of hope that the future will be bright.
There is hope on the horizon for the Power, but significant improvement remains a few years away yet. Expect to see the club parked towards the foot of the AFL ladder in season 2012.
m0nty’s Fantasy Picks
FanFooty.com.au‘s Paul Montgomery gives us his AFL fantasy picks for each team for 2012, including a keeper (the one you must have), cash cow (good prospects for healthy trading), and fools gold (avoid at all costs).
Keeper: There is no one worth keeping at Port Adelaide. Well, not from a fantasy perspective, anyway. Travis Boak and Robbie Gray are closest.
Cash cow: Chad Wingard, obviously. There is no reason he would be held back, as there won’t be a huge amount of competition for his spot.
Fool’s gold: Darren Pfeiffer is competing with half a dozen rookies for one elevation spot. Even if he wins that battle and plays seniors, he’s not a proven scorer and would likely not be given a role conducive to fantasy point production.
Port Adelaide photo gallery
First five fixtures
Round 1 vs St Kilda, AAMI
Round 2 vs Essendon, Etihad
Round 3 vs Sydney, AAMI
Round 4 vs Collingwood, Etihad
Round 5 vs Adelaide, AAMI
Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelFilosi
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