Oh, the irony of "landing" Ryder.
Port win games better without him than with him.
I guess he can play FF next year given he has cost them the salary cap space that is presenting Port offering a Schultz a contract with.
WITH Paddy Ryder contracted and ready to become its new “go to” forward and relief ruckman, it seemed Port Adelaide could only get better this season.
But, in reality, the inclusion of Ryder has destabilised the Power.
Of course, adding Ryder to any list is going to improve that list, but the balance of size and shape and physical capabilities in Port’s forward half is delicate.
Matthew Lobbe is one of those ruckman who just loves game time. He is a worker. He gets a fix on the opposition ruckman and grinds away at him. It appears counterproductive to give Lobbe a breather on the bench. It seems to break his focus and his run at the ball and, because of his skills set, spelling him up forward has never been an option.
Before Ryder’s arrival, Justin Westhoff was the relief ruckman for Lobbe when he did go to the bench, but only for a very short time. The composition of the forward half was Jay Schulz and the hard-running Westhoff, plus four other hard-running, smaller forwards. With Westoff rucking, it was Schulz and five smaller, mobile forwards.
They created havoc and were capable of holding the ball in attack until the full compliment of Power players could push up from behind and employ the best forward press in the league.
Because Lobbe is the No. 1 ruckman, this season 196cm Ryder has played inside forward 50 alongside the 199cm Westhoff and 193cm Schulz most of the time.
That setup is dramatically different to the one that almost took Port to the Grand Final last year.
Ryder, who has an Achilles injury, won’t play this weekend, but Port’s balance is out of alignment when he does.
He is a gun player, so Port is better off for having him, but it must learn how to make it work properly, because you can bet Ryder believes his best position is in the first ruck and not as a forward/relief ruckman. And Lobbe is hardly about to stand aside.
It has been noticeable that since Ryder’s injury, the Power forward line has not been too top heavy to hold the ball in. Paul Stewart has come back in recent weeks and has not set the world on fire, but he tackles hard and his ability to pressure the opposition is very good. It is reasonable to suggest that the Power has reverted to a two and sometimes single-pronged attack, with smaller, agile players restricting the opposition from getting the ball out.
When Port was playing poorly the ball was in its defensive 50 about 60 per cent of the time and, when it did come forward, the make-up of the attack could not hold it in.
The “Power press” wins games. When the forward setup works, it is almost impossible to get the ball out and up to the other end.
The re-inclusion of Ollie Wines after an injury has been an enormous help in the midfield, Travis Boak has given everything he can and Robbie Gray has been phenomenal, but midfield duties have taken Gray away from the forward line, where he is unbelievably dangerous.
With Wines back, maybe Gray now can get a better balance between his on-ball work and lurking inside 50.
The Power seems to be getting back on track with its forward press and team make-up. It will be an interesting decision at the selection table the first week Ryder declares himself available again.