Sports Media

Port Adelaide
Port Adelaide young gun Conor Rozee. (Photo: Getty)

AFL 2022: Port Adelaide Power season preview

Vendetta Sports Media is once again covering Australian Rules Football in 2022. Today we continue our AFL season preview series with a look at a club that is under immense pressure in 2022, the Port Adelaide Power.

Port Adelaide home geurnsey

After consecutive preliminary finals losses – both at home – 2022 simply has to be the year that this deep and talented squad finally put it all together and at worst make another grand final. If they fall short yet again, expect long time coach Ken Hinkley to be clearing out his desk.

For all of our previous season 2022 AFL team previews, click here.

Season 2021

2nd position: 17 wins, 5 losses, 126.3%.

A season of high achievement at Alberton was washed away with a single, devastating loss to end their premiership charge.

Despite a plethora of injuries throughout the year to prime movers Xavier Duursma, Orazio Fantasia, Tom Rockliff, Robbie Gray, Tom Clurey, Zak Butters and Connor Rozee, the Power managed to secure 2nd place on the AFL ladder heading into the finals series. With practically all of those injured players available for September a genuine premiership tilt seemed on the cards.

The Power comfortable dealt with Geelong in week one before getting ground into dust by a rampant Bulldogs outfit, who came into Adelaide Oval and snatched a grand final berth with a 71 point thumping.

Port Adelaide used their injury battles to give game time to Dylan Williams, Miles Bergman and Lachie Jones, who all impressed. They also witnessed significant improvements from young forwards Todd Marshall and in particular Mitch Georgiades, who at times looks a genuine match winner.

The club also celebrated their first Brownlow Medallist, with Ollie Wines walking away with the highest individual honour the game can bestow.

For all of their success, though, that preliminary final loss will colour Port’s season as a failure in many eyes. Their 2022 campaign is sure to be fascinating.

Key ins: Jeremy Finlayson (GWS), Trent Dumont (North Melbourne), Sam Skinner (Free Agent), Josh Sinn, Hugh Jackson, Dante Visentini, Jase Burgoyne (all draft)

Key outs: Peter Ladhams (Sydney), Tyson Goldsack, Tom Rockliff (both retired), Hamish Hartlett, Joel Garner, Trent Burgoyne, Boyd Woodcock, Jarrod Lienart (all released)

There is a very real argument that the Power are the most talented team in the competition. Yes, ahead of both the Demons and Bulldogs. Take a look at Port Adelaide’s list and try to identify a weakness in any area of the park. They possess depth and serious quality in all quarters.

Defensively, Aliir Aliir slotted in seamlessly after coming over from the Swans, combining with club captain Tom Jonas and Trent McKenzie to form the best intercept marking trio in the AFL. Those three will continue to the bedrock that the Power plan their defensive game around. The Power can occasionally get burned by smaller, quicker forward lines who try to play with the ball at ground level, but even then the Power usually hold up well, given Jonas and particularly Aliir are quick across the ground. Darcy Byrne-Jones and Riley Bonner handle the smaller sized opposition forwards in a resolute manner whilst initiating attacks from half back.

Port Adelaide’s midfield is scary. Led by superstars Wines and Travis Boak – two of the most complete midfielders in the game – the Power midfield can shape shift into whatever it needs to be. In a wet game, where the the match is won or lost in the clenches, Wines, Boak and bruising ruckman Scott Lycett generally create a good clearance opportunity. If the game is to be won with speed and outside ball use, the Power are one of the best equipped sides in the AFL to run the ball. Xavier Duursma, Zak Butters, Dan Houston, Karl Amon, Willem Drew, Connor Rozee – all can take their player on and deliver the ball with accuracy and pace to their forwards.

Up front, Port Adelaide are loaded. Veteran full forward Charlie Dixon will miss the opening weeks of the campaign with injury, but that only opens up the opportunity for either Todd Marshall or Mitch Georgiades to stake their claim as Dixon’s long term successor. Both young men possess the size, explosiveness, hands and finishing to turn into elite forwards and both have certainly shown flashes over their careers. For Marshall in particular, 2022 is an important year. The 23 year old is surely at the tipping point of his career. If he can consistently find that next gear then stardom awaits. If he doesn’t, then his career could look an awful lot like former Power favourite Justin Westhoff. To be clear, that’s not an altogether bad thing; Westhoff enjoyed a long and distinguished AFL career. It’s just that he always left you wanting a little more, the feeling that he could have been anything, instead becoming merely a ‘good’ player prone to moments of inspiration.

Around those three bigs, the Power’s forward line is versatile and potent. Resident pensioner Robbie Gray continues to slot goals from all angles and might be the best clutch kick in the AFL. Jeremy Finalyson adds another talented mid sized forward to the mix after moving from the Giants. Orazio Fantasia was excellent when he took to the field though did miss a chunk of games in 2021. He could thrive with an uninterrupted campaign. Sam Powell-Pepper remains enigmatic but he’s the sort of player that will be invisible all night before popping up with three 4th quarter goals to turn a match on it’s head.

With Rozee and Amon often starting forward and drifting into midfield to win that battle simultaneously creating space for their leading forwards, Ken Hinkley has developed a game plan that wins football matches hand over fist. So why then, do the Power continuously fall short when the stakes are highest?

It’s not just in finals that the Power seem unable to step up their game. Even through the home and away season the Power, when challenged, can turn to water. They only lost six games last season, but each was by over three goals, with their average losing margin coming in at 43.5 points. For a team with so much class, physical strength, experience and intercept marking ability, it’s perplexing as to why the Power so often let a close game drift away. It can only be mental.

If Hinkley can’t figure out a way to get in his players heads and remedy this, it could well cost him his job.

Prediction: 4th

The Power will still dine at the top table in 2022 – they’re simply far to talented not too. That said, something has to change for the Power to get over the mental devils that seem to hold them back. To that end, look for Hinkley to experiment a little more in 2022 as he looks to create a Plan B, some alignment or tactic that unlocks something new in this group.

A less discussed hurdle for the Power in 2022 is the fact that it looks likely (frantically touches all of the wood) that every team will go back to playing it’s home games at home in the new ‘COVID normal’. The Power (and Crows) were beneficiaries of so many games being moved from other states to South Australia. Losing that advantage, combined with an extremely tough draw, will see the Power fall out of the top two, but not the top four.

Popular Past Stories