The pain of a narrow preliminary final loss will be the perfect sharp edge to carry Port Adelaide into the future, after a successful 2020.
Seemingly lost amidst the hoopla surrounding Port Adelaide’s trade period acquisitions is whether the Jack Watts-Port Adelaide Power union is viable for both parties.
We all know the potential upside of the trade for the Power. After all, Watts is only one injury-hampered year removed from the breakout season of his career in which he kicked 38 goals, finished fifth in the Demons’ best and fairest, and reminded everyone why the Demons parted with that number one pick.
At his best, he is a silky mover, can play quarterback with his elite kicking, has a keen eye for goal and can pinch hit in the ruck.
And yet apart from 2016, which just happened to be a contract year, Watts has consistently flattered to deceive throughout his now nine-year AFL career. The fact that he was essentially called out, and ultimately let go for next to nothing – and with the Dees agreeing to pick up part of his salary – by a club that had invested so much in him leaves a stain that the Power will do very well to remove.
Having said that, Port taking a flyer on an unfulfilled talent like Watts in isolation would not ordinarily present a huge risk for the club. The Power would be hoping that a new interstate environment will be the perfect tonic for Watts’ stalled career.
But when taken together with the Power’s other newbies – the similarly talented but equally frustrating Steven Motlop and the perceived toxic Tom Rockliff – the outcome of the Watts’ Power story suddenly becomes central to the success of Port’s high stakes offseason moves.
Viewed through this lens, post-trade period predictions of the 2018 premiership cup being paraded around Alberton Oval should be taken with more than a pinch of salt.
The risks posed for Port aside, no one seems to be discussing the fact the Power may well represent the worst fit for Watts in the AFL (even if it sounds like Port was ultimately his lone suitor).
This is particularly pertinent given the fact Jack had only just escaped a bad nine-year marriage with the Demons.
It wasn’t Jack’s fault that the Demons selected him as the number one pick.
It was a terrible fit from the start. A blond haired, ex-Brighton Grammar boy with a game built more on guile than grit finds himself as the great white hope (and inevitable lightning rod) of a blue-blooded soft touch.
After enduring what essentially amounted to an almost decade-long character assassination, the opportunity finally presented itself for Jack to revive his spluttering AFL career in pastures anew.
The chance to nestle in relative anonymity among bigger names on a flank for the Swans or the Cats made all the sense in the world for a player who had been under a constant searing spotlight since his debut.
Instead, Watts finds himself at arguably the most working-class, no-frills club in the country, and a world away from the comfortable surrounds of his previous footballing homes in Brighton and Jolimont.
It’s often been said that football does not mean everything to Watts. The problem is that he is heading to a club where football means absolutely everything to its fans.
One can only imagine how quickly the home fans will turn if the Power is failing to meet expectations and there is even a hint that Watts is not fully committed to the contest.
Not only that but there is also a serious question mark as to how Jack, a rumoured party boy, will adapt to the relatively less salubrious after-dark surrounds of Adelaide’s Rundle Mall.
Let’s hope he gets a tattoo ahead of Round 1 because he’s going to need one where he’s headed.
In any event, whether or not the relationship between these seemingly awkward dance partners can bear fruit, and perhaps even a premiership cup, it promises to be one of the more interesting subplots of next season.