Port Adelaide Power: Youth is the key

20 March 2011

Written by: Ben Waterworth

A QUICK GLANCE AT 2010:

On the surface, 2010 started promisingly for Port Adelaide as the club notched up five victories from its first seven matches. However the Power went on to lose their next nine matches to end any slim chance they had of reaching the finals for the first time since 2007. The home loss that handed Richmond its first win for the season in Round 10 – in which they were restricted to a season-low score of 3.12 – was the lowlight of the club’s 2010 campaign.

At the commencement of season 2010, questions were being asked about the coaching tenure of Mark Williams. The answer became clear during the club’s losing streak and by Round 15 the end of Williams’ 12-year tenure was official. Assistant coach and former All-Australian ruckman Matthew Primus took over the reins for the remaining seven matches, in which he managed to steer the side to five victories – including a ‘showdown’ win over the Crows that effectively ended their arch-enemies’ late-season revival.

Port Adelaide ended its tumultuous 2010 campaign with a strangely respectable-looking 10-12 win-loss record and a 10th place finish, after an inaugural wooden spoon was seemingly possible. Primus’ performance was deemed impressive enough for the club to appoint him as senior coach for the next three years.         

KEY PLAYER:

With the departures of club stalwart Warren Tredrea and fellow 2004 premiership veteran Josh Carr, the time has arrived for a new group of players to stand up. Travis Boak seems the type most likely to lead the way. After an impressive debut in 2007, the classy midfielder from Victoria’s Surf Coast has steadily been on the rise ever since. Entering his fifth season, the 22-year-old may not quite be a senior player yet, but he now has both some experience to match his talent. Boak signed a new three-year contract with the Power last year, which signals Port Adelaide’s desire to retain his service long term and Boak’s intent to play an integral part in the club’s rebuild.

THREE MOST IMPORTANT GAMES IN 2011:

Round 1 – v Collingwood, Saturday 26 March at Etihad Stadium

This game isn’t important because anybody genuinely expects Port to win, but it is an early opportunity to put the rigours of pre-season training – as well as any adjustments – to the test against the defending premiers. The Power should gain at least a hint of understanding as to whether they’ve improved very early in the season.

Round 4 – v Adelaide, Saturday 16 April at AAMI Stadium

There’s no need to justify the significance of this fixture. The first South Australian showdown of 2011 will be crucial to the cause of both sides, as the Crows are looking to make amends for a disappointing 2010 campaign of their own. But one gets the feeling it’s more pivotal for Port.

Round 15 – v Brisbane Lions 3 July at the GABBA

The relevance of this match may turn out to be miniscule – though if we’re honest, that’s unlikely. Round 15 is quite a way off, but the Lions & Power have no doubt been tipped by many pundits to contest this season’s wooden spoon. This fixture takes place two-thirds of the way through season 2011, so there’s a possibility this will be a battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2011:

It’s rather difficult to ascertain what we should expect from Port Adelaide in season 2011. The Power – in a positive – haven’t managed to attract the kind of off-season attention that has plagued a couple of other clubs.

Needless to say, injuries play an important part in the fortunes of all AFL clubs. The impact of these injuries is magnified not only when they affect star personnel, but also when they occur in a young team. It’s fair to suggest Port Adelaide is one such young team, as its clearly entering a rebuilding phase – if it wasn’t already there in 2010.

The Power will be looking for players like tough centre-half-back Troy Chaplin and young defender Alipate Carlile to continue their impressive 2010 form. A great year from Brett Ebert will also serve Port well. A strong leading and marking forward, he’s as potentially dangerous as any player on the list.

You can be sure captain Domenic Cassisi will lead by example as usual, but you can’t help but feel the Power are far too deficient across the ground to cause enough teams headaches.

Anyhow, it’s doubtful any pundits are expecting a finals appearance from the Power in 2011 and the sooner they re-build the better. It seems, unfortunately, the sheer horror of the 119-point belting in the 2007 grand final has psychologically affected players and club alike in the time since and that only very recently has a true regeneration of this team been possible.

If Port can aim for anything else in 2011, it’s to draw whatever supporters they have through the gates of AAMI Stadium. One could even view finishing 10th last year as a positive, considering it was largely considered a horror season. However, it’s hard to see them finishing much higher – if at all – in 2011.        

LADDER PREDICTION:

10th – 15th

Mathew Farmakis is a Postgraduate student studying Media and Communications at Swinburne University. He previously completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree at La Trobe University. This is Mathew’s first piece for upstart.