Port Adelaide’s productive off-season shows they are keen to move on from a terrible 2012 and ready for big improvement in 2013, writes Luke Sale.
There are many negative words that could accurately sum up Port Adelaide’s 2012 season – disastrous, shocking and awful are only a few. However, a busy off-season restructure both on and off the field has made the Power my tip to be one of the big improvers of 2013.
The biggest headline-making administrative change sees Channel Seven personality David ‘Kochie’ Koch become the new Chairman of the club. Many newspaper reports in Adelaide suggest it was his presence that landed the club its new major sponsor, European car giant Renault.
As is so often the case when a club suffers a significant downturn in results on the field, the coach is the first to go. The man charged with resurrecting the clubs’ fortunes is Ken Hinkley, formerly an assistant coach at Geelong and most recently Gold Coast. He takes over the reigns from Garry Hocking who was interim coach following Matthew Primus’ resignation last season.
The New Era
Hinkley’s first task in his first senior coaching role was the acquisition of new playing talent. Their biggest signing, Adelaide-born Essendon midfielder/forward Angus Monfries signed a four-year deal back in October.
Other players hoping for a more fruitful career at Port Adelaide are West Coast defender Lewis Stevenson and Perth-born Kane Mitchell. Stevenson struggled to gain a regular spot in The Eagles backline ahead of the talented Shannon Hurn and Beau Waters while Mitchell was overlooked for a contract following a trial with Fremantle. He is also the 2012 Sandover medallist; the WAFL’s equivalent of the Brownlow.
Combine those three names with the Power’s first draft selection Ollie Wines, as well those who have been traded to the club like Jack Hombsch from Greater Western Sydney, Campbell Heath from Sydney and Jake Neade and you just about have half a team of new exciting talent at the club for 2013.
Despite the busy off-season of recruiting, Ken Hinkley will still be relying largely on the existing leaders at the club as well as the up and coming talent. Veteran Dominic Cassis along with the evergreen Kane Cornes will be asked to nurture the youngsters into the big time while in midfield, Captain Travis Boak, and his deputy Brad Ebert will be looking to build on an excellent 2012. Also, now second-year player Chad Wingard will display further improvement and could be set for a breakout year.
The return of Jasper Pittard will feel like a new signing for the Power following his long-awaited return from injury. Inside player Hamish Hartlett will want a breakout 2013 following his own recovery from long-term injury, while up forward Justin Westhoff will have to share the goalscoring load with Jay Schulz and the strong marking John Butcher.
The amount of analysis that can undertaken during pre-season is always up for debate however Port Adelaide supporters will no doubt be encouraged by the start their club have made to 2013.
In the first round of the NAB Cup they chalked up a 50-point win over St.Kilda in a match that only went for 40 minutes before a narrow loss to fierce rivals Adelaide. A two-point loss to Melbourne was followed by two very impressive results, a six-point win against top four side West Coast and most recently, a five-goal win over a near full-strength reigning premier Sydney.
The Final Word
The first thing Ken Hinkley will be asking for is patience from the board and from the supporters in the stands. It will take time for Port Adelaide to become a feared force in the AFL again but this off-season has shown they certainly have the right goals in place.
Their new talent has already turned heads during pre-season and will surprise further this year when it really counts.
Ladder prediction: 12th – 15th