Power play: Port Adelaide’s bold moves will pay dividends… Eventually

Sylvester Roar Rookie

By Sylvester, Sylvester is a Roar Rookie New author!


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    Port Adelaide’s moves in this year’s trade period are those of a club that believes they are firmly in the premiership window, after some say they prematurely made a preliminary final in 2014.

    The acquisitions of Tom Rockliff, Steven Motlop, Jack Watts, Jack Trengove and Trent McKenzie made the Power one of the more active clubs in this year’s trade period.

    Their signings did come at a cost, with the departures of Jackson Trengove, Jarman Impey, Brendon Ah Chee, Aaron Young, Logan Austin and Matthew Lobbe, although all had found themselves playing SANFL at season’s end.

    However, I am not convinced these fresh faces will thrust Port into the top four in 2018.

    Although they finished fifth, Port Adelaide struggled to beat a top-eight team in 2017. Punishing every team below them allowed Port to finish with the second-best percentage, only to Adelaide, but their Achilles’ heel was their polish and predictability going inside forward 50.

    The signatures of Rockliff and Motlop certainly help to fill the void of polish – although not necessarily known for his finesse, Rockliff showed this year he can play as a crafty half forward.

    Family ties saw Motlop chose the Power over both the Crows and Gold Coast, in which can only be described as high-risk, high-reward move by the club. History tells us that you almost already know what you’re going to get when it comes to Motlop – 20 disposals and one goal a game, on average. But it’s the difference between his best and worst that has many questioning his impact next season.

    The speedster finished season 2017 with a career-high disposal efficiency of 74 per cent, which is something Port has been desperately searching for.

    This also highlights why they went after out-of-favour Demon Watts, who is among the best in the competition when it comes to efficient forward 50 entries. Port finished 13th in the competition for effective disposals per game in 2017, so Hinkley will be banking on the former number 1 pick bringing his elite leg.

    But what’s needed more than anything was a contested-marking tall forward, like Mitch McGovern or Jack Darling. Having another quality tall forward to complement Charlie Dixon would have allowed the club to finally put an end to their habit of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    Dixon is one of the hardest working power forwards in the game and what he provides both up the ground and deep inside 50 cannot be undersold. However, when he is playing as that link-up player, Robbie Gray or Chad Wingard must play as the next best forwards options.

    Gray spent the majority of the year as a deep small forward. Whether this was by design or limitations caused by injury, his class in the midfield was sorely missed. He doesn’t get as much recognition as he deserves by interstate media, but Gray is one of the best one-on-one forwards in the competition – as we saw in this year’s Round 19 clash against St Kilda. Gray is a match winner and needs to be utilised with significantly more minutes in the midfield.

    Equally, when Dixon is playing as a deep forward, the Power are predictable in their forward 50 entries. High repeat entries to Dixon make defending easy for the quality intercept men of the competition.

    Playing as a forward, Dixon found himself double-teamed more often than not this season. However, if Port added another contested marking tall, it would make opposition defenders see Dixon in fewer two-on-one situations, resulting in him reach his true potential and stamping his place among the competition’s best power forwards.

    Port Adelaide fans should be extremely happy with the aggressive approach taken in chasing down the club’s second flag. With only two first-round selections since 2013, Port have put their future in the hands of their scouting and player development.

    Time will tell if these bold moves pay off, but more teams should take this aggressive approach.

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    The Crowd Says (33)

    • November 10th 2017 @ 7:46am
      Harsh Truth Harry said | November 10th 2017 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      Yep, Port will be top 4 next year, along with Richmond, Adelaide and the eventual premiers….Essendon. Port are a good side now, fast and tough…the modern footy style is pace, pace and breakaway and that’s what got Richmond their flag, not pressure like most simpletons think, but pace. Essendon and Port will be best at it next year but Port will get found out in finals by lack of exposure to the G. Once an MCG tenant like the mighty Bombers makes top 4….game over….Adelaide will make top 4 too but get found out at the g too….Richmond will make top 4 but surely can’t have a dream run again injury free…..Essendon will claim their 17th cup and stand alone at the very top as the undisputed mightiest club in the land.

      • Roar Rookie

        November 10th 2017 @ 10:56am
        Lamby said | November 10th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

        If you are going to count pre-AFL premierships then Port have won 37 and are clearly the best football club (which is hard to say as a Crows supporter).

        For the record Essendon have 2 AFL premierships. There is very little chance that you will win your 3rd next year.

        • November 10th 2017 @ 6:06pm
          Blue said | November 10th 2017 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

          The AFL is a rebrand of the VFL. Same board, same constitution, same competition.

          Be as proud as you like about SANFL flags, but Essendon have 16 flags and are gunning for 17. Nobody had a gun to PAFC’s head, they chose to join the comp voluntarily. If you don’t like it, just watch the Maggies and enjoy your full history.

          • Roar Guru

            November 10th 2017 @ 6:19pm
            Cat said | November 10th 2017 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

            All of that is true but the VFL had no salary cap. No draft. A different or non-existent finals format (depending on year). No equalisation measures.

            VFL flag ≠ AFL flag

    • November 10th 2017 @ 8:57am
      Basil said | November 10th 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

      Port have sold there depth and picked up 3 mature players at a price, off of clubs that were happy to let them go.
      Time will tell…..

    • Roar Rookie

      November 10th 2017 @ 9:04am
      Green said | November 10th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

      I think the moves will see Port in the bottom half of the top 8. They were extremely lucky to finish 5th at the end of the home & away season in 2017. They were probably the quality of a 9th/10th side in reality. Having said that I’d love for them to kick on and have a real crack at it.

    • Roar Guru

      November 10th 2017 @ 9:07am
      Cat said | November 10th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      Rockliff is a solid get but Motlop and Watts are flaky players joining an already flaky team. Not sure they are going to add much more than what Port already had. Is the rest of the team going to suddenly work both ways because Motlop sure won’t show them how? Is the rest of the team suddenly going to display some toughness because Watts isn’t going to show them how?

      • November 10th 2017 @ 9:56am
        Harsh Truth Harry said | November 10th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        Motlop may well thrive now he is under a really good coach and at a club with a solid, caring culture. Harry’s harsh prediction?

        Motlop will become the greatest trade away disaster for a club since Carlton gave away Eddie Betts. Motlop, at a good club can become a mixture of Cyril Rioli and Eddie Betts.

        • Roar Guru

          November 10th 2017 @ 10:03am
          Cat said | November 10th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

          Blah, blah, blah, whatever the Cats do it’s wrong. Yeah, we know your script by now fake truth.

      • November 10th 2017 @ 11:29am
        Stephen said | November 10th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

        Cat, please help me reconcile the argument – compensation draft pick 19 is justifiable based on a loose set of guidelines – for a flaky player. Would both arguments sit comfortably in a court of law? Question not a statement.

        • Roar Guru

          November 10th 2017 @ 1:50pm
          Cat said | November 10th 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

          Compo picks are based on age and salary – not ability. If a club over pays for a player then the compo pick is going to be higher than ability says they are worth. Do I think Motlop is worth $600k+ per year? Nope. That’s why I was glad the Cats let him go.
          Can you honestly tell me Motlop isn’t flaky? I’ve closely watched him his whole AFL career and I can’t think of a better word to describe him as a player. Could have been anything based on raw talent, but seems to lack the heart and drive to excel consistently. Takes too many plays and even entire games off. Can look great when the team is going well but cannot think of a single time he ever lifted the side and those around him.

          • November 10th 2017 @ 2:19pm
            Stephen said | November 10th 2017 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

            Fair enough – thanks. I can’t honestly say I’ve followed Motlop closely enough to pass a fair judgement. Would you agree the whole issue of Free Agency Compensation needs to be either tighter and more transparent or abolished entirely?

            • Roar Guru

              November 10th 2017 @ 2:41pm
              Cat said | November 10th 2017 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

              Compo picks should be scrapped. I’ve never agreed with them.

    • November 10th 2017 @ 9:54am
      AD said | November 10th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

      They’ve brought in a bunch of players with various question marks hanging over them – there’s a reason that none of their previous clubs made any attempt to retain them (and in some cases pushed them out). On the other hand, there were question marks over most of the players they shipped out, too. On balance, the players they’ve brought in are better than the ones they’ve moved out so you’d expect them to be better, it just remains to be seen how much better.

      • November 10th 2017 @ 9:57am
        Harsh Truth Harry said | November 10th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        yes AD, how do you think Carlton feel about the “question mark” they had over Eddie Betts after he went on to become the most damaging small forward in the game?

        • November 10th 2017 @ 10:53am
          AD said | November 10th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          What question mark? They wanted to keep him, but Malthouse also wanted Dale Thomas.

          He was already one of the best small forwards in the game at Carlton, despite the fact that they were a struggling team for most of his time there. I think a lot of the improvement in his game at Adelaide has just come from playing in an overall better team which has provided more opportunities for him as a forward than he got at Carlton.

          • November 13th 2017 @ 2:12pm
            Harsh Truth Harry said | November 13th 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

            Mick was still on Eddie’s payroll when at Carlton. He took Daisy, knowing his body wasn’t the same anymore….let Eddie go and proceeded to instigate Carlton’s worst era in their now tragic history.

    • November 10th 2017 @ 10:10am
      sammy said | November 10th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

      This really is all or nothing for Port as 3 of Ports best players in Gray, Boak and Ryder are all in their 30’s next season and they have to try and win one now whilst these guys are still playing before the rebuild. That they have also not been able to bring in much top order youth via the draft over the last few years must also be a real concern going forward, hence the all or nothing approach to trading to try and pinch one. Will it be top 4 or will it be a busted flush next year – time will tell

      • November 10th 2017 @ 10:45am
        AD said | November 10th 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        I don’t think Boak has been one of their best players for a year or two – he’s been a role-player rather than a star for a while now. Ryder and Gray will leave a huge hole when they go, I don’t think you could say the same about Boak.

        • November 10th 2017 @ 12:21pm
          sammy said | November 10th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

          maybe so. Also Westhoff is in his 30’s as well and he is one of their better players. What they have been able to do well is keep players they want to keep – the end of next year? Wines will be out of contract and if a big offer comes his way it will be a test for the club to see if they can hold him as he is a key for them for the years ahead

      • November 10th 2017 @ 1:29pm
        David C said | November 10th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

        Yep, Port are in a dangerous space at the moment. If the wheels come off ala Freo and North they are going to be in real strife going forward. They need more elite young talent and you need a few years of high draft picks to get that. North are finding that out at the moment. Freo get a couple of elite talents this year which can really launch their rebuild.