Coach – Ken Hinkley
Points For – 13th
Points Against – 5th
Top 5 Best and Fairest
- Justin Westhoff
- Tom Jonas
- Ollie Wines
- Robbie Gray
- Jared Polec
2018 Rising Star Noms
Riley Bonner (Round 1)
Ins – Ryan Burton, Scott Lycett, Sam Mayes, Robin Cox, Connor Rozee, Zac Butters, Xavier Duursma, Riley Grundy, Boyd Woodcock
Outs – Dom Barry, Jack Hombsch, Emmanuel Ira, Jake Neade, Lindsay Thomas, Jasper Pittard, Jared Polec, Will Snelling, Chad Wingard
Port proved a lot of pundits wrong last year, after a good 2017 it was thought they had recruited well enough to be a challenger in 2018. Of course in retrospect, they had taken one previously reliable player with attitude issues and two flakey players who occasionally had pretty good games. The only player who didn’t live up to his previous billing was Rockliff who was let down by his body and his attitude.
The backline is solid. They found a very handy one in Houston through their rookie list. The backline performed well for most of the year. It lacked some genuine class in running out of half back but I think the addition of Burton will give them a real class user and free up someone like Hartlett to take over the Polec role of soft outside runner who delivers the ball well into the forward 50. Clurey and Jonas give them good cover down back and all in all it looks pretty solid.
The midfield is a concern, some of the players that looked good in previous years haven’t kicked on. SPP looked stunning in his rookie year but barely SANFL standard last year, Wines is gold but got nowhere near enough support. They need Rockliff to have his body and attitude right this year and they need Boak to turn the clock back along with Ebert. Even then you are relying on someone like Motlop turning around a career of underperformance. It just doesn’t look anywhere near good enough to match it with the best teams.
The forward line is an interesting one. Westhoff somehow keep defying his aging. Dixon lost his mojo a bit last year but he is more than capable and if his body is right, he gives them a really good focal point. Robbie Gray is a superstar and the other Gray had a pretty good year but they still need someone like Neade or Thomas and I was surprised to see them both delisted. I don’t see a huge amount of natural development in their forward line this year which will be a concern. Losing Wingard makes them a lot more one dimensional and if Dixon doesn’t really turn it on, I think they will be in trouble.
The rucks are as good as anyone. Ryder and Lycett as back up gives them flexibility and a solid ruck team. I think both can play together although Ryder is always a concern when he isn’t the number one ruck. The coach has credits in the bank, I think again like his neighbour, Pyke, another year of failure and the pressure will start to mount.
How you see Port depends whether you buy into the 2017 version or the 2018 version. I think the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle but the 2018 model seems more believable. I think even in 2017 it felt like they had over performed. I don’t think they have a top eight sort of list but they have a strong home ground advantage and a list that will win enough games to have them in contention for a fair portion of the year before missing out. Will finish between 10-12 for mine.