“Look out, we’re coming!!”, Those were the words uttered by Ken Hinkley recently and they are the ones that could come back to burn him. Now, there were a lot more other words said at the time, which when you put it context, it’s not that bad but that’s common sense and the general football media don’t use common sense.
The Power have missed the finals in four of the past five seasons and haven’t won a match in September since 2014. For a club that prides itself on making finals and success, primarily stemming from their SANFL affiliate, this simply isn’t good enough. Hinkley knows that finals are a must this year or it’s bye bye as senior coach. Rather than go down the experienced path, Hinkley has backed in youth to try and turn things around, and it looks like it could really pay off. Through the likes of Rozee, Duursma and Butters, all drafts picks from last year that came in and impressed. Marshall, Houston, Burton and Bonnor are guys that are stepping up to help lead the club to the finals, allowing the pressure to come off the likes of Robbie Gray, Travis Boak, Hamish Hartlett and Justin Westhoff.
For Hinkley though, the time is now, and he simply must take this team to finals this season or he’s done as a senior coach for the time being. It will be interesting to see how the Power go, as their best last year was very good, unfortunately their bad was really poor.
Ins: Wylie Buzza (Geelong), Miles Bergman, Mitch Georgiades, Dylan Williams, Jackson Mead (Draft), Jake Pasini, Trent Burgoyne, Boyd Woodcock, Riley Grundy (Rookie Draft)
Outs: Billy Frampton (Adelaide Crows), Dougal Howard (St Kilda), Paddy Ryder (St Kilda), Jack Trengove (delisted), Cam Hewett (delisted), Kai Pudney (delisted), Matthew Broadbent (delisted), Aidyn Johnson (delisted), Sam Gray (delisted – No with Sydney)
The Draw has been relatively kind to the Power; however, their first 6 weeks looks quite tough. Whilst a trip to Metricon to take on the Gold Coast should give them the start they want, they than have a 5 week stretch of Adelaide, North (Marvel), Eagles (home), Magpies (MCG), Dogs (home). Would want to start well as that 3-game stretch against last years finalists could dampen their good start. If they are in the hunt for the finals, they travel twice in the last month to Perth and Ballarat but do have the Giants in the last round which could very well decide their finals fate.
In terms of double-ups, pretty good overall with only West Coast being a top 6 team form last year, though they also cop the Dogs who many expect to feature heavily in finals. Other than that, they get Hawthorn, Adelaide and Gold Coast so overall, it’s quite good. Overall, if they miss the finals, they can’t blame the draw!
5 BIG QUESTIONS FOR THE POWER
1: Can the kids keep improving?
The Power backed in the kids last year, and it bore serious fruit. Connor Rozee looks a star in the making, Xavier Duursma looks settled on the wing and has a hard edge about him, whilst Zac Butters, despite his slight frame, produced some great footy last year. The concern will be the second years blues, when teams start to take more notice of them than they did the year before. They are also looking at debuting another first year player in Georgiadis in round 1, so again they are looking to youth. Does he hit the ground running, or will he take time? The kids certainly have the talent, but the Power will be hoping they don’t stagnate at all, or it could slow them down initially
2: Can Charlie finally deliver?
As a Power player, Dixon has only ever topped 40 goals once, in 2017 when he kicked 49. His next best is 30 in his debut year of 2016. Now injuries have hurt him, as has been thrown into the ruck at times, but put simply, he hasn’t produced the consistent sort of footy up forward that the Power needs. Having come in to the season off a strong preseason, Dixon again copped a minor injury in the last Marsh series game against the Dogs which is all to indicative of his career to date. If the Power are the make finals, then they need Dixon to kick at least 40+ goals, and probably a lot more. The question is, can he finally produce a season like that of the premier big forwards in the league to lead the Port back to finals and save Hinkley’s job?? If he stays fit, then I’ll back him in, but that’s a big if!
3: Can they cover the losses from the offseason?
Whilst people will argue they weren’t necessarily best 22 players, Ryder, Howard and Sam Gray were all strong contributors for the Power at times last year. The Power will be hoping that Scott Lycett especially can stay fit as they traded away a lot of their ruck depth with Ryder and Frampton being shown the door. Sam Gray has been a handy half forward type player over his career, whilst Dougal Howard was seen as a swingman who was about to really blossom into a quality player. Depth is huge in AFL footy these days, as injuries can kill your season, so to see so many quality players leave is an interesting tactic from the club. It’s an especially interesting one from Hinkley, who is clearly happy to put his career in the hands of kids. AS the season where’s on, and the injuries bite, the Power will be hoping their depth stands up as they let some good quality players walk out the door
4: Can Ollie re-find his form?
He started the season late last year after receiving a shoulder injury and copped a pasting from the media about water-skiing in his downtime. When he returned, he wasn’t the same Wines we had seen and he was generally down on his previous high standards. Talk about a trade in the offseason emerged and it seemed all was not happy in the Wines camp. He committed to the club, however has again injured his shoulder, delaying his start to the year by several weeks. At his best he is a key driver for the Power. He’s a bull in the contest, tackles as well as anyone in the game and can hurt teams on the outside as well. For the Power to make the finals, they need Wines at the top of his game. Here’s hoping he can come back form his shoulder injuries and perform, as he’s great to watch when on song
5: Will Hinkley still be in charge in August?
Last month Hinkley said: “I love this club and I love the history of this club and this club’s history is premierships.” “So, that’s what we’re starting out to try and do. We’re going to start this year wanting to win the premiership in our 150th year. ” We’re going to do everything we can to do that. To do that, you have to qualify for finals, so look out, we’re coming.”
It was a bold statement, and one that should be applauded. Why not back yourself in and see how you go? Of course, Peter Schwab did something similar in 2004 when coach of the Hawks, and by round 16 he was being asked to resign as they sat 2nd last, but I do believe Port’s team is better than that 2004 Hawks list and as David Koch, Port President, has said, “He’s owned the goal, and it should be every teams goal to win the flag each year”. Hinkley also knows that if he fails to make finals he won’t be there anymore, so go big or go home it seems. The question is, will he still be the coach in August? Will the Port be in the race for the finals, or will they be looking to part ways??
Personally, I think old Kenny might be in trouble, as I can’t see Port winning the flag and I think they are line ball to make finals!
LIKELY ROUND 1 TEAM
B: Darcy Byrne-Jones, Tom Clurey, Ryan Burton
HB: Hamish Hartlett, Tom Jonas, Riley Bonner
C: Karl Amon, Tom Rockliff, Xavier Duursma
HF: Brad Ebert, Justin Westhoff, Connor Rozee
F: Robbie Gray, Charlie Dixon, Jack Watts
Foll: Scott Lycett, Travis Boak, Dan Houston
Int: Zak Butters, Todd Marshall, Mitch Georgiadis, Sam Powell-Pepper
‘THE VIEWS’ PREDICTION FOR 2020
I’m really not sure what to make of Port Adelaide this season. They certainly have the talent to make finals, but they also seem fairly flakey as well. They started the year well last season being 2-0, then were 2-2, and so it went, they seemed to match their number of wins to number of losses each time, only ruining that stretch when they copped three finalists in succession. Kenny has also invited a lot more pressure onto the club with his comments, especially when they have failed to win a final since 2014.
Defensively they look sound enough, with Clurey and Jonas offering good key position strength, whilst Ryan Burton can take the 3rd tall. They have run in the likes of Byrne-Jones, Hartlett and Bonner whilst we’ll also see Houston run off half back if he’s not in the middle. They do lack depth here, and its why the trading out of Howard makes little sense. At his age, and the teams age demographic, it’s really a bizarre move.
In the midfield, Boak has come off arguably his best season and looks rejuvenated, whilst they’ll be hoping that Rockliff and Wines can get a decent run with injury. Ebert is always solid in the middle and adds a stopping option, whilst the likes of Amon, Duursma, Rozee and Gray will off the speed and class outside of stoppages. When add in a guy like Westhoff, who just seems to do whatever he wants, then they can cause sides trouble
Charlie Dixon and Todd Marshall will have to hold down the guy posts up forward, as outside of Peter Ladhams, they don’t really have any other tall forward options. Again, they sent Howard packing, a young swingman…….strange. It will be interesting to see how they use Jack Watts on his return, and whether he can provide a moving target for them.
In the small forward category, they look strong, with Robbie Gray, Connor Rozee and Zac Butters all offering pace, class and x-factor, whilst Powell-Pepper has been slated to play more forward as a defensive option for them as well. If Dixon can stay fit, I think they have the forward line can that can kick enough goals and cause teams all sorts of trouble.
Despite this though, I think they are an outlier for finals. I’m just not sure they are consistent enough to win enough games to qualify. Whilst I think that they are certainly capable of making it, as It will be an even season, I’m not sure where they have improved enough to overtake, not only the sides in the 8 from last season, but the other teams around them (Saints, Hawks, Demons) that have actually improved their lists. As such, I think they’ll miss the finals again and it will be the end of Kenny
LIKELY FINISH: 9-12