Port Adelaide 2012 Season Preview

INS: Brendon Ah Chee (national draft), Nathan Blee (national draft), Brad Ebert (West Coast), John McCarthy (Collingwood, pre-season draft), Brent Renouf (Hawthorn), Chad Wingard (national draft).

OUTS: Dean Brogan (GWS), Chad Cornes (GWS), Jason Davenport (delisted), Danny Meyer (retired), Daniel Motlop (delisted), Marlon Motlop (delisted), Michael Pettigrew (retired).

YEAR IN REVIEW: Matthew Primus’s first full season in charge at Alberton was always based on rebuilding but nobody could have known just how much work needed to be done. The Power dodged the wooden spoon by just 8.24 per cent in a three-win campaign. From the rubble, however, emerged a couple of signs of life. John Butcher kicked 11 goals in his first four AFL games, in the closing month of the season, and then penned a contract extension. Jasper Pittard displayed his undoubted talent in 13 games off half-back and finished seventh in the club’s best and fairest.

GAME BREAKER: Last year we saw a wave of talented players head to half-back in a bid to damage from defence. It’s where coaches deployed their classy kicks and zone-breakers, including Chris Yarran at Carlton. It seems the Power have cottoned on to the idea and trialled Danyle Pearce during the pre-season. It worked well and could be the move he needs to rediscover his damaging ways.

RISING STAR: Expect Andrew Moore to emerge in 2012. Moore was a highly-rated backman when taken No.9 in the 2009 draft and re-signed with the club at the same time as John Butcher late last year. It’s fair to say it was with a little less fanfare. He’s finally getting some continuity into his training and can benefit from regular action.

KEY ARRIVAL: Brad Ebert is a 21-year-old, first-round draft pick with 76 games to his name. He cost Port Adelaide two mid-range draft picks (No.28 and No.49). Bargain. He’s had his knockers since walking out on West Coast – mainly disappointed Eagles fans – but he’s got the attributes and time to become an elite midfielder. There are concerns over his kicking but Ebert says that he’s worked hard over the pre-season to improve it.

COACH FACTOR: Matthew Primus won five of his first seven games as Port Adelaide coach after replacing Mark Williams late in 2010. Last season he oversaw three victories from 22 matches. It’s hard to tell if he’s capable or not because last year he had a side cruelled by injury and an under-resourced coaching panel behind him. The club saw the need to beef up Primus’s support staff and added Shaun Rehn, Brad Gotch, Josh Carr and Tyson Edwards. This season will be a fairer test for the former Power skipper.

NUMBERS GAME: Port Adelaide ranked 17th in the competition for inside 50s per game in 2011. Even Gold Coast, with their inexperienced midfield being carried by Gary Ablett, pumped the ball into attack more regularly. Why? Port were ranked 15th in contested possessions and 13th in clearances.

THE VERDICT: 15th. There is undoubted talent on Port’s list and, although its early, there appears to be greater structure and organisation around the way they are setting up this year. A potential key position star in John Butcher helps, and they’ve been able to keep the group intact through a tough period. Adding local boy and ex-Eagle Brad Ebert, along with Collingwood midfielder John McCarthy and Hawthorn premiership ruckman Brent Renouf are big pluses. Should be much more competitive in 2012.

BEST 22

B: Trengove Carlile Pittard

HB: Pearce Chaplin Thomas

C: Hartlett Boak Brad Ebert

HF: Gray Schulz Rodan

F: J.Westhoff Butcher Brett Ebert

Foll: Renouf Cassisi K.Cornes

I/C: Lobbe, Salopek, McCarthy

SUB: Wingard

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