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Port Adelaide 2019 season preview: Best 22 and predicted finish

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Roar Guru
10th January, 2019
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Having been bundled out of the 2017 finals in extraordinary circumstances following a Luke Shuey goal after the siren in extra time, Port Adelaide aggressively hit the trade and free agency period, looking to enhance their 2018 squad as they searched for their first finals victory since 2014.

With the arrival of Tom Rockliff, Steven Motlop and Jack Watts, a new-look Power outfit sat atop the AFL ladder after an unbeaten opening three weeks of the season. By the end of Round 16 they were on a five-game winning streak, which included strong victories over premiership contenders Richmond and Melbourne, and were sitting comfortably in fourth position.

But a horror end to the season in which they dropped six of their final seven matches saw the Power fall out of finals contention in embarrassing fashion, dropping to tenth on the ladder with a 12-10 record. It marked the third time in the last four years that Port Adelaide finished either ninth or tenth, highlighting their inability to take the next step.

In a thrilling best and fairest count, Port’s oldest player, Justin Westhoff, claimed his first John Cahill Medal, beating Tom Jonas and Ollie Wines, who both tied for second.

The list turnover at the Power continued in earnest once the season concluded. Former Roo Lindsay Thomas, after extending his career with the Power by seven games, announced his retirement following a total of 212 matches and 329 goals. Jimmy Toumpas, Dom Barry and Jake Neade were all delisted, as were rookies Cameron Hewett, Will Snelling and Emmanuel Irra.

Port’s ruck stocks received a much-needed boost with the signing of premiership Eagle Scott Lycett via free agency. With speculation growing during the season that gun speedster Jared Polec would be leaving the club, it was confirmed when he and Jasper Pittard were both packaged in a deal, along with pick 48, and sent to North Melbourne, with the Power receiving back the Roos’ selection 11 and a future fourth-round pick.

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With that pick from the Kangaroos, Port moved up the draft order, securing Fremantle’s selection six and a future third-round pick in exchange for picks 11, 23, 30 and 49.

Two-time All Australian Chad Wingard also left the club after 147 games and 232 goals, with the mercurial forward sent to Hawthorn along with the club’s future third-round selection, receiving back picks 15, 35 and the Western Bulldogs’ future fourth-round pick. As part of the Wingard deal, the Power also received young Hawk Ryan Burton.

With elite South Australian talent at the top of the draft order, Port Adelaide continued to trade up, sending picks 6, 35 and Fremantle’s future third to the Brisbane Lions for selection five and Sam Mayes.

In their final involvement in the trade period, key defender Jack Hombsch was sent north to the Gold Coast, with Port receiving back Adelaide’s future fourth-round selection.

Armed with three first-round draft picks, the Power selected North Adelaide young gun Connor Rozee with selection five, before grabbing Zak Butters from the Western Jets in the TAC Cup with pick 12. At selection 18 Port secured Xavier Duursma of Gippsland Power, with their next involvement in the draft not coming until they selected Riley Grundy, brother of Collingwood ruckman Brodie, at pick 73.

A few selections later the Power picked up Boyd Woodcock, also from North Adelaide.

With Dan Houston being upgraded to the senior list, Port Adelaide had two players to add in the rookie draft. Tobin Cox from Glenelg joined via pick nine before the Power reselected Cameron Hewett. Through their Next Generation Academy Port also selected Kai Pudney and Martin Frederick to fill in their category B rookie list.

Playing list

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New players in bold

1. Reserved for the captain 17. Tom Clurey 33. Darcy Byrne-Jones
2. Sam Powell-Pepper 18. Zak Butters 34. Sam Mayes
3. Ryan Burton 19. Jack Trengove 36. Boyd Woodcock
4. Paddy Ryder 20. Connor Rozee 37. Jake Patmore
5. Matthew Broadbent 21. Xavier Duursma 38. Peter Ladhams (R)
6. Steven Motlop 22. Charlie Dixon 39. Justin Westhoff
7. Brad Ebert 23. Jack Watts 40. Jarrod Lienert (R)
8. Hamish Hartlett 24. Kane Farrell 41. Riley Grundy
9. Robbie Gray 25. Sam Hayes 42. Tom Jonas
10. Travis Boak 26. Riley Bonner 43. Dan Houston
11. Tom Rockliff 27. Joel Garner 44. Cameron Hewett (R)
12. Trent McKenzie 28. Willem Drew 45. Martin Frederick (R)
13. Todd Marshall 29. Scott Lycett 46. Sam Gray
14. Billy Frampton 30. Joe Atley 47. Tobin Cox (R)
15. Karl Amon 31. Aidyn Johnson 48. Kai Pudney (R)
16. Ollie Wines 32. Dougal Howard

Best 22

FB: Darcy Byrne-Jones, Tom Clurey, Tom Jonas
HB: Dan Houston, Dougal Howard, Hamish Hartlett
C: Ryan Burton, Sam Powell-Pepper, Steven Motlop
HF: Travis Boak, Todd Marshall, Justin Westhoff
FF: Robbie Gray, Charlie Dixon, Paddy Ryder
R: Scott Lycett, Ollie Wines, Tom Rockliff
IC: Brad Ebert, Riley Bonner, Connor Rozee, Kane Farrell
EMG: Jarrod Lienert, Jack Watts, Sam Gray, Matthew Broadbent

The star

Even a cancer scare in the off-season couldn’t stop Port Adelaide star Robbie Gray from completing another excellent campaign, with the 30-year-old claiming a fourth All Australian honour, tying him with Warren Tredrea for the most selections by a Power player.

For the second time in his career Gray won the Power’s goal-kicking award, booting 36 majors, including an equal career-high of six against the Adelaide Crows in Round 8. It was enough for Gray to be named man of the match, a feat he would repeat in Port’s return encounter with the Crows later in the year, making him a four-time winner of the Showdown Medal.

No player has won the award more in the history of the two clubs, and there’s every chance he could add a couple more before his boots are hung up.

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Robbie Gray Port Adelaide Power AFL 2015

(AAP Image/Ben Macmahon)

Needs a big year

The expectations on former Brisbane captain Tom Rockliff were rarely met in his opening season with the Power, with injuries restricting the ball-winning brute from being able to impact games as much as he would have liked. Rockliff managed 18 games, averaging 20.6 disposals, his lowest total since his debut year in 2009, when he played just one match.

At times the 28-year-old showed he can still dominate games, such as his Round 13 performance against the Bulldogs, in which he collected 25 touches, won seven clearances and booted three goals. With a solid preseason under his belt, watch for Rockliff to have a much bigger impact in 2019.

Ready to break out

No player could have been forgiven for throwing in the towel more than young Port Adelaide forward Todd Marshall, having lost both his mother and father within a six-month period. Prior to his dad’s tragic passing in April, Marshall had started his second season as an AFL player in fine fashion, booting nine goals from the first four rounds. After taking personal leave from the club, Marshall made a courageous return to the team after the midseason break.

At 198 centimetres tall, Marshall is the future of the Port Adelaide forward line and will be looking to make a big impact in the memory of his parents in 2019.

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Last chance

Having explored the possibility of a trade in October, Karl Amon finds himself back at the Power for a sixth season, a year in which he’ll be hoping to add to his current tally of 42 games. The slightly built midfielder has struggled to make a name for himself in the Port Adelaide line-up, constantly finding himself in and out of the team. Due to come out of contract at the end of this season, the 23-year-old will be desperate to earn a fresh deal.

New colours

Having played a crucial role in delivering a flag to the West Coast Eagles, Scott Lycett joined a rare list featuring names such as Lance Franklin, Ron Barassi, Norm Smith and Alex Jesaulenko by switching clubs following a premiership.

The 203-centimetre big man led the Eagles’ ruck division with distinction after Nic Naitanui went down with a season-ending knee injury in Round 17 before making the tough decision to return back to his home state of South Australia as a free agent. With Paddy Ryder a lot closer to the end of his career than the start, it is a shrewd recruitment by the Power, giving the likes of Billy Frampton and Sam Hayes time to develop in the SANFL.

After an excellent opening three years in the AFL system playing for Hawthorn, no-one was more shocked than Ryan Burton when he was informed by his manager while holidaying in the United States that he was being used as trade bait as the Hawks chased a suitable deal to land Chad Wingard. Over time the childhood Port Adelaide supporter has come to accept the shift back to his home state of South Australia and will be looking to bounce back from a year that didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations he set in 2017 when he came second in the Rising Star award.

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Also returning home in 2019 is former Brisbane Lions utility Sam Mayes. Having fallen out of favour and playing just six matches with the Lions in 2018, the Power will be hoping that the best football is still ahead of the 24-year-old Mayes, who was originally a top ten draft pick back in 2012.

Scott Lycett of the Eagles celebrates the win during the 2018 AFL Grand Final match between the Collingwood Magpies and the West Coast Eagles at Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 29, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.

(Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The kid

Armed with their strongest hand at the national draft since they took John Butcher, Andrew Moore and Jasper Pittard in 2009, Port Adelaide held selections five, 12 and 18 after some heavy trading following their disappointing end to the 2018 campaign. With South Australian youngsters Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine both heading to Gold Coast inside the top three, the Power opted for North Adelaide young gun Connor Rozee with their opening pick. With a big leap, elite agility and exquisite skills, Rozee will be pushing hard for a senior debut early in 2019 with the Power.

Despite missing half of the TAC Cup season through injury, Zak Butters still showed enough for the Western Jets to earn himself selection at pick 12 by Port Adelaide. A small forward who likes to get under the opposition’s skin, Butters is a high-impact type of player, rarely wasting a possession, and looms as a crowd favourite down at Alberton for years to come.

With their final first-round pick Port opted for Xavier Duursma from the Gippsland Power. While Rozee offers class and Butters has great goal sense, Duursma is a future leader capable of winning his own ball in the middle and also providing dash on the outside. Captain of Gippsland in 2018, he also featured prominently for Vic Country in the under-18 championships, but he will more than likely be given time to build some muscle before he is thrown into the thick of the action at AFL level.

Supercoach star

Odds-on favourite to be the next captain of Port Adelaide following Travis Boak’s decision to stand down from the role, Ollie Wines has been one of the most consistent midfielders in the Supercoach world over the duration of his career. Since his second year in 2014, Wines’ lowest season average has been 97.3 points. He showed in 2018 his ability to post big numbers, scoring over 140 points on three occasions. If you’re looking for a strong midfield option who won’t break the bank, Wines is your man.

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Fixture

Round Opponent Venue
Round 1 Melbourne Demons MCG
Round 2 Carlton Blues Adelaide Oval
Round 3 Brisbane Lions The Gabba
Round 4 Richmond Tigers Adelaide Oval
Round 5 West Coast Eagles Optus Stadium
Round 6 North Melbourne Kangaroos Adelaide Oval
Round 7 Collingwood Magpies Marvel Stadium
Round 8 Adelaide Crows Adelaide Oval
Round 9 Gold Coast Suns Adelaide Oval
Round 10 Hawthorn Hawks University of Tasmania Stadium
Round 11 St Kilda Saints Jiangwan Stadium, Shanghai, China
Round 12 Bye
Round 13 Fremantle Dockers Optus Stadium
Round 14 Geelong Cats Adelaide Oval
Round 15 Western Bulldogs Adelaide Oval
Round 16 Adelaide Crows Adelaide Oval
Round 17 Brisbane Lions Adelaide Oval
Round 18 Richmond Tigers MCG
Round 19 GWS Giants Adelaide Oval
Round 20 Essendon Bombers Marvel Stadium
Round 21 Sydney Swans Adelaide Oval
Round 22 North Melbourne Kangaroos Marvel Stadium
Round 23 Fremantle Dockers Adelaide Oval

Good Friday football has two new teams, at least for this year, with the AFL scheduling the Power to face reigning premiers West Coast at Optus Stadium on the night of the religious holiday following the afternoon match at Marvel Stadium. It is one of three Friday night fixtures for the Power, who have been shunned from hosting games on Thursday nights for the first time since 2014. Instead Port will feature in six Saturday night games, up from just one last year.

The Power face just one top-eight side from last year twice in 2019, with Ken Hinkley’s men set to take on Richmond on two occasions. North Melbourne, Fremantle, Brisbane and crosstown rivals Adelaide are the other clubs the Power will see twice.

For the second consecutive year Port Adelaide will head to Perth twice in a season, while they go to Queensland just once to face the Lions. The Power will again face Hawthorn in Launceston, as they did last year, while they play five matches in Victoria, two of those at the MCG, including their season opener against Melbourne.

For the third year in a row Port Adelaide will also go to China, this time with a new opponent in St Kilda after two years of playing Gold Coast at Jiangwan Stadium. Their remaining 12 games will be at the Adelaide Oval, with the Power set to play four consecutive matches at home between Rounds 14 and 17.

The quirk

When Port Adelaide go to Marvel Stadium to take on Collingwood on a Friday night in Round 7, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s 2005, because that was the last time those sides clashed under the roof in the primetime slot. Port’s Round 18 encounter with Richmond will be the first time in over three years that they have played at the MCG, while their two meetings with fierce rivals Adelaide will occur in Rounds 8 and 16 in 2019. It is the shortest amount of time between return encounters between the two clubs in regular-season history.

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Jayden Short of the Tigers competes with Darcy Byrne-Jones of the Power during the 2016 AFL Round 15 match between Port Adelaide Power and the Richmond Tigers at Adelaide Oval on July 1, 2016 in Adelaide, Australia.

(James Elsby/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Don’t miss it

There’s plenty happening in the opening half of Port Adelaide’s season in 2019. The Good Friday night match between the Eagles and Power will be a huge occasion and should deliver a big crowd given their recent history. The ticket everyone will be after will be Port’s first meeting with the Crows in Round 8, however. Both clubs played out two sensational, thrilling matches last year, with both games being decided by the final goal. Port will host the first meeting on a Saturday night and the whole city of Adelaide will be buzzing with anticipation.

Make other plans

It will be hard for Power supporters to feel confident going into their Round 19 meeting with the GWS Giants, having lost their last four encounters. Even the fact the match will be on Port’s home soil won’t do much to allay any fears considering two of those wins to GWS have been on the road, while the Giants have recently tasted success at the Adelaide Oval over the Crows as well. Clearly it is a venue that holds no fear for Leon Cameron’s men, so Port Adelaide will definitely be up against it.

Final word

Port Adelaide have been one of the biggest let-downs since they almost made their way into the 2014 grand final, with Ken Hinkley unable to return a side that showed so much promise beyond the first week of the finals since. The club has undergone a vigorous list shake-up over the past two seasons, and with the loss of Jared Polec and Chad Wingard, two of their most important midfielders, I can’t see Port being a major player in season 2019. If that is the case, Ken Hinkley will be feeling the heat.

Predicted finish Tenth to 14th.

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