For the first time since Port Adelaide’s formation as an AFL club, it has a coach at the helm in Ken Hinkley who has no association with the organisation, or its SANFL counterpart the Port Adelaide Magpies.
Hinkley is the perfect candidate for Port Adelaide; he has tasted success as a coach in local leagues and as an assistant coach at Geelong from 2004 to 2009. He has experience in building a club from the ground up, as he did when he took a position as an assistant coach at Gold Coast.
As part of Hinkley’s support team, senior assistant Alan Richardson has served at the Western Bulldogs, Collingwood, Essendon, and most recently a stint at Carlton that was cut short by the termination of Brett Ratten as senior coach. Richardson brings a wealth of experience and will provide invaluable knowledge to help guide Port Adelaide to success.
Further off-field changes include the appointment of Port Adelaide’s number one ticket holder David Koch as chairman and former South Australian senator Amanda Vanstone to the board. Both have the business, media and political experience to prepare Port Adelaide for its transition to Adelaide Oval in 2014.
The changes at Port Adelaide have not been limited to administrative ones with the club undergoing significant list alterations at the end of 2012. The departures include Danyle Pearce to Fremantle, Troy Chaplin to Richmond, David Rodan traded to Melbourne, Ben Jacobs to North Melbourne, Jacob Surjan, Steven Salopek and the tragic loss of John McCarthy.
From a marketing point of view, Port Adelaide might not be considered a ‘destination’ club by AFL players hungry for immediate success, but there is undeniable appeal that the struggling South Australian club would provide young men with consistent opportunities to lock a position in the squad and play regular AFL football. New on-field inclusions through trade are Angus Monfries from Essendon, Jack Hombsch from Greater Western Sydney, Lewis Stevenson from West Coast and Campbell Heath from Sydney.
Monfries struggled in 2012 to reach the heights of his 2009 season as a forward, but no doubt will slot directly into Port Adelaide’s forward line and even rotate through the midfield as required. He has the experience, fitness and skills to be an immediate impact player for the club. While the loss of Chaplin, Jacobs and Surjan weakens Port Adelaide’s backline, the club has recruited well with Hombsch, Stevenson and Heath all capable of playing defensive positions, bringing fresh enthusiasm along with them.
Port Adelaide was one of the major winners of the 2012 National Draft, recruiting Oliver Wines, Tom Clurey and Mason Shaw. Wines, a prolific ball winner, will slot straight into Port Adelaide’s midfield next year. As a ferocious tackler with incredible endurance, he’s certain to have an immediate impact in an engine room that has relied for far too long on the efforts of Travis Boak.
Clurey, a 192cm big man, has the capability to become the tall defender that Port Adelaide is lacking. He has incredible athletic endurance, recording a 15.1 in the beep test at the Draft Combine.
Shaw kicked seven goals in the Under-18 Grand Final in 2011 and has the capacity to move directly into Port Adelaide’s forward line, serving as a valuable foil to Jay Schulz and Robbie Gray, who will be returning from his knee reconstruction in 2013.
There is fierce competition for the remaining spots on Port Adelaide’s list, with nine players granted permission to train in the lead up to the December 13 Pre-Season Draft. The most established is midfielder Brent Prismall, though it is believed that the Power have offered him a one-year deal that was turned down.
The most controversial man training with Port Adelaide is former Melbourne mercurial forward Liam Jurrah, who is currently facing criminal charges. Despite rumours to the contrary, he has been arriving early at Port’s training sessions and looks far leaner and fitter than he did for much of his career at Melbourne. While he is a risk to draft, the potential upside of Jurrah is enormous as he possesses incredible talent. It is likely, given the attitude and fitness displayed by Jurrah in the pre-season training, that Port Adelaide will rookie list him.
The surprisingly-overlooked South Australian MVP and Central Districts reserves premiership player midfielder/defender Sam Colquhoun has been granted a lifeline with Port Adelaide committing to selecting him in the Pre-Season Draft should he be available. It seems likely that Port Adelaide will get their man with pick three in the Pre-Season Draft.
Rounding out the permission to train list, and all possibilities to earn a spot should Jurrah not be taken are former Carlton rookie and Norwood premiership midfielder Jaryd Cachia and Port Adelaide Magpies players Justin Hoskin, Kory Beard, Aseri Raikiwasa, Sam Gray and Sean Lemmens.
The appointment of Brenton Sanderson saw the Adelaide Football Club jump from 14thposition on the AFL ladder in 2011 to being a kick away from a Grand Final in 2012 with minimal list changes. Port Adelaide, with a raft of changes on and off the field, has the potential to make a surprise surge back up the ladder. The Power could very well double their five wins of the 2012 season, with at least 11 games up for the taking with the possibility of 13 wins not out of the question given the unpredictability of the Showdowns.
2013 could be the successful launching pad for reigniting the Power as an AFL club, just in time for their shift to Adelaide Oval which will see an increase in game attendance as well as financial benefits, and hopefully the removal of tarpaulins from around the ground.