Welcome to the least anticipated of all the 18 club previews.
Based on 2011, Dreamteam expectations for Port players in 2012 probably couldn’t be lower. Even for fans of Port Adelaide, 2011 was a year to forget but at least not that many people turned up to watch them.
After gifting Gold Coast their first win in Round 5, the season sunk to even lower depths in Round 20 and 21 with back to back 100 point losses to Collingwood and Hawthorn. The one glimmer of hope was the Round 24 win over Melbourne witnessed by a sell-out crowd at Port’s future home, the Adelaide Oval. The win also allowed Port to avoid its first wooden spoon.
With the full time move to the Adelaide Oval still two or (more likely) three years away, what happens to Port in the interim?
It largely depends on the way that Matty Primus approaches 2012.
A – Does he play a more experienced team featuring guys like Kane Cornes/Salopek/Pearce, and try to be more competitive? Or B – does he continue the youth team focus of 2011 and get game experience into Port’s young squad.
Option A may give Port win a few more games in 2012 and allow Primus to keep his job. Option B will see a coaching change as Port lose games in front of small home crowds but it is the best way to return to the top of the ladder.
My best 22 for Port is a mix of experience and youth. Any major injury will test Port’s inexperienced squad.
FB: Jasper Pittard Alipate Carlile Jackson Trengove
HB: Matt Thomas Troy Chaplin Ben Jacobs
C: Kane Cornes Dominic Cassisi Danyle Pearce
HF: Robbie Gray Justin Westhoff Brad Ebert
FF: Jay Schulz John Butcher Cameron Hitchcock
R: Matthew Lobbe Travis Boak Hamish Hartlett
IC: John McCarthy, David Rodan, Tom Logan
Sub: Matthew Broadbent
Fringe players: Chad Wingard, Brent Renouf, Steven Salopek, Brett Ebert, Andrew Moore, Cam O’Shea and Daniel Stewart
Port play Hawthorn, Essendon, Adelaide, Richmond and Fremantle twice as well as top 4 teams Carlton, Collingwood and Geelong. Port play other cellar dwellers, Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast once, both away.
Expected record: 6 wins and 16 losses. 15th or 16th.
Bye: Round 13 shared with Gold Coast, Hawthorn, Carlton, St Kilda and Richmond. Having the last round of byes helps any cash cow in these teams as they will have the most weeks to improve before being traded out.
What does it mean for DreamTeam?
Fundamentally, to earn Dreamteam points, you have to have the ball. Yes, except for tackles. Statistically, Port Adelaide weren’t a power in 2011; ranking near last in every statistical category. With an improved squad and greater coaching resources, Port should be better but not significantly better in 2012. When they do have the ball they use short kicks to move the ball, which is great for Dreamteam if you have the skills to implement it. This is a major question mark in 2012 as last season the only thing Port led the league in was handling errors and turnovers. Therefore, we can expect points for Power players to remain scarce this season unless the squad shows major skill improvement.
Most 2012 teams will probably not have a Port player but for those looking at unique options, there a number of Port options.
To analyse Port players, I have adopted the BGC Growth Share Matrix which categories companies as Cash Cows, Stars, Questions Marks and Dogs.
Stars: Players that will have high average points.
Cash Cows: Players under-priced that should provide owners with a return.
Question Marks: Players with ? on them.
Dogs: players to avoid.
Hamish Hartlett – Mid. Starting Price: $435,900.
2011: 16 games played average 88.13 points per game. Time on ground: 79% with 0.9 points per min.
Likely 2012 average: 95/100 ppg
Port’s highest ever draft pick at Pick 4 in 2008. Hartlett is Port’s most skilled player when on the field. Problem is he has trouble staying on the field, with soft tissue injuries and last year a shoulder injury that required surgery. Durability is the main reason not to pick Hamish who has only played 31 games in three seasons. On a modified preseason and is avoiding full contact training until this month.
Hartlett had seven scores above 90 in 2011 with his average hurt by two scores in the 50’s against Richmond and Freo. With Boak, Cassisi and Ebert, Hartlett should be able to coast outside and use his clean disposal to target Port’s key forwards. Has previously been played across half back in a quarterback type role. A rotation with Ebert/Gray across half forward is more likely this year which should see improved points from goal kicking. A fit Hartlett should spend more time on the field and with an improved yield should see average between 95 and 100.
Robbie Gray – Forward/Mid. Starting Price: $402,000.
2011: 22 games played average 81.27 points per game. Time on ground: 83% with 0.77 points per min.
Likely 2012 average: 85/90 ppg
Took a major step forward in 2011 despite Port’s struggles with his average increasing 13 points per game from an injury ravaged 2010. Improved fitness saw Gray play a full season for the first time with significant time spent through the middle. This led to 6 scores over 100 including a career best 131 points against Essendon in Round 23. Gray still spent time close to goals and was Port leading goalkicker with 32 with 6 coming in that Round 23 game.
A fan favourite and the player you would want to have the kick after the siren, not Justin Westhoff, Gray should see further improvement in his average in 2012. There were 7 games where he failed to kick a goal, more consistency and improved accuracy in front of goal should add a few points. Strong work rate is highlighted by the 4 tackles a game.
A dual position player in 2012 with forward/midfield status combined with a Round 13 bye, Robbie Gray is a unique selection who with an average around 85-90 and will be close to a top 10 forward in 2012.
John Butcher – Forward. Starting Price: $243,400.
2011: 4 games played average 61.5 points per game. Time on ground: 83% with 0.77 points per min.|
Likely 2012 average: 80 ppg
The major bright spot for Port’s season was the late season emergence of John Butcher. Once considered a potential number one overall pick, back, hamstring and hip injuries wiped out his rookie year and restricted him to 4 games in his second year. In those 4 games, Butcher showed flashes of superstardom highlighted by 6 goals from 6 kicks in his second game. For Dreamteam this year he will inconsistent. Points come from marks and goals and little else. That 6 goal game netted only 67 points. A 93 against Essendon included 6 tackles. Expect Butcher to average somewhere in the middle of these numbers, 80 points, with a couple of big hundreds and a couple of sub 50 scores.
Ben Jacobs – Defender. Starting Price: $297,200.
2011: 12 games played average 60.08 points per game. Time on ground: 76% with 0.63 points per min.
Likely 2012 average: 75 ppg
A smooth left footer who can play on the ball or across half back, Jacobs was pencilled in for most team last year due to his DPP status as Def/Mid. Glandular fever wrecked the debut season of Port 1st pick, he lost 10kg and spent time in hospital. After recovery, he showed signs of real promise with clean disposal across half back. An ankle injury during Dreamteam finals hurt a number of coaches, especially me. This year Jacobs is available as defender only. Point scoring defenders are a premium asset in Dreamteam, with only 8 defenders averaging more than 85 and only 21 above 75. A full pre-season and time in the weight room will really help Jacobs stay on the field. Jacobs is capable of averaging 75 which should see his owners make $100,000 whilst having a decent scoring option.
Brad Ebert – Mid. Starting Price: $308,100.
2011: 21 games played average 62.29 points per game. Time on ground: 73% with 0.68 points per min.
Likely 2012 average: 80/85 ppg
New team but not really, the Ebert name is synonymous with Port Adelaide. Uncle Russell won 4 Magarey Medal for the Port Magpies where his Dad also played, while cousin Brett has played 150 games for the Power. A former first round selection in 2007 for West Coast, Ebert is back home after missing out on the Eagles finals side. A young experience midfielder, 76 games in 4 seasons, Ebert was forced to a new role across half forward last year due to the development of players like Shuey, Rosa and Gaff. This saw his average drop nearly 20 points per game. Has struggled with disposal and decision making at times. Likely to rotate on the ball from the half forward line, his endurance, pressure and eye for goal should see his average return to 2010 levels. One to consider in a mid-priced strategy.
John McCarthy – Mid. Starting Price: $251,000.
2011: 8 games played average 50.75 points per game. Time on ground: 67% with 0.62 points per min.
Likely 2012 average: 60/65 ppg
Prime example of the “Gamble Factor”. Football managers and Dreamteam coaches overvalue fringe players in great teams. Last year Ryan Gamble was a popular preseason pick with an expanded role at St Kilda likely to see higher points. End result 57.9 average, less than his 2008/9 scores with Geelong.
McCarthy was a second round pick for Collingwood but played only 18 games across 4 seasons. Will an expanded role for Port see his average jump to 80 points per game? Unlikely. Can we expect 60 points per game mainly due to more time on the ground, yes. Hardly a reason to pick him especially at the starting price.
Brent Renouf – Ruck. Starting Price: $265,000.
2011: 7 games played average 53.57 points per game. Time on ground: 64% with 0.68 points per min.
Likely 2012 average: 65/70 ppg
Renouf is an athletic, run all day ruck that was acquired to share the workload with Matthew Lobbe. A premiership winner in 2009 with Hawthorn, Renouf average dropped 10 points per game last season as he, not Max Bailey struggled with health. Renouf had his gall bladder removed due to injury sustained against Geelong in Round 7. Has matured since previous incidents including public drunkenness and amazingly falling into a fire.
Time share with Lobbe will limit his scoring for Dreamteam. Even if he is able to play as a sole ruckman, Champion Data highlights Renouf as one of the more ineffective centre tap rucks in the league, losing centre bounces and hitting the ball to the opposition when he wins. Would rather save $140,000 and take former Port ruckman Jonathon Giles who should provide a similar points return.
Matthew Lobbe – Ruck. Starting Price: $357,100.
2011: 10 games played average 72.2 points per game. Time on ground: 80% with 0.75 points per min.
Likely 2012 average: 65/70 ppg
Played well as the lone ruckman following an injury to Dean Brogan and the lack of any development from any of Port other ruck options, yes that means you Jarrad Redden. Saw action in many teams as a dual Forward/Ruck pick. This year Lobbe is only a Ruck option which is understandable if you saw him try and play forward last year where he kicked one goal for the year. Lobbe is reliant on hit outs and tackles to boost his average with 31% of his points come from hit outs and 22% from tackles. With a time share with Renouf likely, Lobbe with have the improve his ball skills around the ground to jump into McEvoy/Jacobs average range. 199cm giant should average more than 3 marks per game when they are on the field for 80% of the game. Commit to a premium or cheaper alternative Kreuzer and McIntosh.
Travis Boak – Mid. Starting Price: $426,300.
2011: 21 games played average 86.19 points per game. Time on ground: 78% with 0.88 points per min.
Likely 2012 average: 90/95 ppg
Without Dom Cassisi and Kane Cornes for a large part of the year, Travis Boak hade to shoulder most of the midfield load for Port in 2011. He struggled with the additional attention from taggers and from a lack of underneath midfielders. Port’s decent to the bottom of the ladder saw Boak drop 8.7 points per game from his 94.9 average in 2010. 5 scores over 100 were matched with 3 scores below 60. Main reason for drop in points was a change in his kick to handball ratio with more handballs. Boak also made less tackles.
Teams could be tempted to pick Boak on the belief he could return/surpass his 2010 average. The additions of Ebert, McCarthy and Wingard and a full season from Cassisi and Hartlett will see Boak have more help but also less time on the ball. A return to his 2009 average of 90 points per game rather than the 95 of 2010 is more likely. Given the starting price would rather save $50,000 and take Lenny Hayes, Tom Scully or David Swallow.
Steven Salopek – Mid. Starting Price: $402,000.
2011: 12 games played average 70.92 points per game. Time on ground: 79% with 0.69 points per min.
Kane Cornes – Mid. Starting price: $391,100
2011: 17 games played average 79.06 points per game. Time on ground: 83% with 0.73 points per min.
Danyle Pearce – Mid. Starting price: $365,800
2011: 18 games played average 73.95 points per game. Time on ground: 86% with 0.68 points per min.
There was a time when Kane Cornes was among the first players picked in every team. This is 2012 not 2006/07. Out of the side last year for the first time since 2004. There was talk he would be delisted or traded at the end of last year but remains at the club and is likely to have a similar season to his brother Chad last season. In and out of the side before a mid season forced retirement. Sad end to a Dreamteam stud.
Pearce and Salopek missed a number of games in 2011 due to injuries, form and youth movement. 2012 should be no different with Salopek and his reconstructed shoulders the most vulnerable to new additions of Ebert, Wingard and McCarthy. Pearce with his pace and ability to break the lines is still and asset a Leon Davis like move to the backline would be beneficial to both the player and the team. Even if this eventuates unlikely to worthy of a midfield spot in your team.
Chad Wingard – Mid. Starting price: $157,200
Likely 2012 average: 65/70 ppg
AFL.com.au in its draft countdown highlighted that former Freo back pocket James Walker is the most successful player drafted at number 6, until now. Hopes are sky high for local left-footed midfielder/forward Chad Wingard. He shined at the Draft Combine, recording the highest vertical leap and finishing in the top 5 for the clean hands test and agility run.
Will see significant game time in 2012 but when and where? Drafted as an elite midfield prospect that can play across half forward does Wingard earn a spot ahead of Brad Ebert and John McCarthy? With young underdeveloped players tough nuts like Thomas and Logan give the team better balance. A strong NAB Cup could see him take Pearce’s wing. Concussion issues which saw Wingard’s draft stock fall could be an issue.
Starting price hurts a little but should be strong scoring rookie – 65/70. One to strongly consider.
Brendon Ah Chee – Forward. Starting price: $98,700
Likely 2012 average: 50 ppg
Potential excitement machine. 190 cm former junior ruckman that has developed into a athletic forward prospect. Participated in the 2009 Boomerang program for indigenous youth. Won B&F for South Fremantle Colts team including fellow rookie Shane Kersten. Injury prone and unlikely to play this year. Exciting prospect for the club not for dreamteam.
Nathan Blee – Def. Starting price: $98,700
Likely 2012 average: 40 ppg
191cm, 21 year old mature age key defender prospect from East Perth. Excelled manning up against players with AFL experience in the WAFL and Foxtel Cup last year. Provides valuable squad depth but even if he plays wouldn’t expect more than 40 points per game.
Darren Pfeiffer – Fwd/Mid. Starting price: $117,800 * Rookie Listed
Likely 2012 average: 65/70 ppg
24 year old mature age recruit formerly on Adelaide and Carlton’s list. A tough bodied midfielder that starred at Norwood in the SANFL last year. Talented, was originally picked 17th overall in 2005 but was delisted due to youthful issues – drinking and bar fights. Dual Position player. Pfeiffer is likely to be promoted first. Strong potential for week 1. Expected average around 65-70 points.
Danny Butcher – Mid. Starting price: $85,800 * Rookie Listed
Likely 2012 average: 55/60 ppg
Unlike his brother, a tough inside midfielder with Daisy Thomas hair. Pre-season groin injury restricted him early in the season causing him to miss the Vic Country Squad. Rebounded to come second in the TAC’s Morrish Medal. Having his brother at the club should help him settled faster than a normal rookie. Unlikely to be Round 1 team but NAB Cup form will highlight if he is a mid-season trade down option once promoted.
Port faces another year of short term pain for long term gain as they transition from the Cornes brothers era to the Butcher brothers era.
There are some unique options for owners to consider but 2013 not 2012 will be the year to load up on Port maturing squad.
By Damian Stone.