On Friday night we attended the Port intra-club down at Alberton Oval, also catching up with fellow fantasy podcasters Dos from The Draft Doctors and Heff from The Keeper League. Obviously internal trial games aren’t the be-all and end-all, but this early in the season we find they are good to get an early read where certain players might play, get a first look at the draftees, plus also see what sort of shape players have returned in. Last year at Port’s Intra-Club Lewy came away and called it real early that Xavier Duursma would make a big impact in his first year and that Travis Boak would play a lot of midfield minutes. We are hoping we can repeat similar this year
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One of the first things we noticed walking in the gates was Connor Rozee and the size and stature. While he probably hasn’t added a massive amount of muscle, he definitely has bulked up slightly in the off-season and frame is very much in the mould of the modern-day tall midfielders, like a Patrick Cripps or a Nat Fyfe. Big shoulders, strong hips, but still very lean and slim, which we both agree helps those type of midfielders be strong in the contest and play an inside role, but not lose any of their foot speed for the outside run. Another we took notice of in the warm-ups was Mitch Georgiades, who we have both kept a really close eye on this pre-season. He looked very strong for a first-year tall forward and showed great athleticism for his height. Even in the warm-ups, he looked like a 5th or 6th year Key Forward, not a kid about to play his first hit out with the big boys. Scott Lycett looked lean and Peter Ladhams looked like he had bulked up a little, both very similar looking ruckman, even throughout the game had us looking at the team sheets to work out who was who.
The First Disposal
In heavy traffic, we saw Connor Rozee weave his way through the first centre contest and burst away with speed to take the first disposal and first clearance with a silky smooth left foot. We knew the kid was special, but this made plenty in the crowd stand up and take notice, his composure under pressure on a whole new level. It was almost a like a little “wow” murmured around Alberton Oval.
It was interesting to watch the Power outfit line up, with only two players sitting out the game (Mead and Wines) we definitely felt they had great depth across the board. One thing we felt lacking was an out and out superstar in their side and someone who can break a game open. Looking at some of the Top 4 sides, the players like Dustin Martin, Patrick Dangerfield, Tim Kelly or Jordan DeGoey. Boak and Rockliff are both hard-working and very serviceable, Dixon, Marshall and Lycett look reliable up forward, but the only players we thought had the potential to win games off their own back were Rozee and Houston. Being young developing players puts a lot of pressure on their shoulders. A young and fit Robbie Gray would be ideal, and while he showed class, he looked a tad behind the pace at times and wasn’t in the thick of the action very much. Very strong across the board, but lacking that A Grade X Factor.
The Stand Outs
All the news articles, all the press conferences, all the posts we have read on forums, it all came to life and everything we hoped for in Houston was there right in front of us, and then some. Houston was electric in the midfield, strong at contests and a genuine clearance bull. He played inside and outside, used the ball well, tackled lots, attended just about every centre bounce, and was probably best on ground for both of us. Very dominant first half, slightly quieter in the third quarter with a few rotations going on, but he finished the game out strong. He worked hard all night and one thing that really stood out for us was his two way running. We doubt we will see him down back at all, but even if he rotates a little he proved how important he is in the Port engine room. BIG BIG LOCK
We have been tracking this kid very heavily since his name bolted up the draft order in November and boy does he have something special. He attacked absolutely EVERYTHING. Was probably the main lead-up target ahead of Dixon in the first half and he made his presence known at every single contest. Big leap, good speed off the mark, ability to be the tall key forward but also agile and athletic enough to get around the ground. Checkers made the call that he reminded him of a very young Barry Hall with his ability to attack contest after contest. Maybe even a little bit of Matthew Richardson about him with his athleticism around the ground. Might not set the fantasy world on fire, but should get plenty of opportunities under Hinkley
This blokes first half was something else. He had Dos from Draft Doctors looking up his price for the Brownlow just 10 minutes into the game. Was given a good crack in the midfield and just made it look easy. Composure under pressure and has the speed to break away from packs and his footwork is silky smooth. Won the ball inside and outside and every time the ball was in his hands he had unreal game sense and just made it look like he had all the time in the world. Played up forward a little in the second half but still rotated on the ball. His clean ball use will definitely be needed at times for Port, and even though he is a second-year player he screams leadership and seems to have a very mature footy head so do expect some more midfield minutes. Could be a cheeky POD in classic, definitely on the radar for our draft leagues.
Competed with Lycett in the ruck all night, a very good battle between the two. We were impressed with his ability to run out the game and looked very fresh even late in the last quarter which was good to see for a young ruck. Did rotate up forward a little and hit a few contests and made his presence known but didn’t impact the scoreboard or set the world on fire.
Played up forward and played a very similar role to what we have seen from Robbie Gray or Chad Wingard over the last few years for Port. Did some very nice things and showed a bit of dazzle at times. Definitely has put his hand up for a Round 1 gig with 3 goals. Might not score massive numbers but he has a decent frame for a first-year player and should be able to hold his own.
Usual pig self. Its sometimes hard watching Rocky live because he can slide under the radar a little, but he did find plenty of the ball and was racking up the cheap marks and kicks. Worked hard all day, played out of the midfield alongside Boak and was manning up with Houston a fair bit. Very serviceable, would have been in the best players on ground. His fantasy days aren’t up just yet
Smallest bloke on the field and when he ran out at the start of the game we joked he looked a little like a 15-year-old kid, but he really impressed as the game wore on. Quick and speedy, he attacked the ball hard, competed in the air a few times and was also was pretty clean by foot. Probably draws some comparison to Zak Butters last year, playing that zippy small forward role. Not sure if we will see much of him at AFL level in 2020, but there were some good signs there. Kicked a nice goal in front of the crowd in the stands and got a nice big cheer, could be a fan favourite in the years to come
Ken Hinkley said we might see Ebert back in the midfield a little more in 2020 and he stayed true to his word. Rotated on the ball, attended a few centre bounces and then rested up forward. Even when up forward he was handy at boundary throw-ins and still managed to get his hands on the ball a fair bit. Only 29 and I think we probably forget he was averaging 100 in those first round last year before he had his issues with concussion. In a year where forward premiums seem very thin he could slide under the radar and be a very nice POD
We were surprised he was even playing after just coming off a serious foot injury. Found a fair bit of the ball and played through the middle. He was racking up some big numbers in the SANFL last year and while Wines is out of the side the door might be open for him. Probably a little awkwardly priced to be overly fantasy relevant but he played a tidy game
Hasn’t shown a whole lot fantasy-wise in the past, but he definitely looks like he has taken his game to another level. Little quiet in the first half but picked it up especially in the last quarter. Found a bit of the ball on the inside, but also was used on the outside for his speed. Attended a few centre bounces and played a little on the wing. One to watch through the Marsh Series.
Checkers has been pretty hot on this young bloke this pre-season, and he showed some promise early kicking the first goal of the game. Played that Sam Gray role up forward alongside Powell Pepper. Good defensive pressure, didn’t do a whole lot wrong and looked dangerous when near the goals. He kicked a few majors in the SANFL last year and if he gets picked early on could earn a spot on our forward bench
Very dominate early of that half-back flank. Used his long, accurate left foot to rebound out of defence and had a nice kick to handball ratio. Showed good foot speed too and we could easily see him adding 10-15 points to his average if given that rebound role
Was playing this really awkward deep forward role, starting in the goal square. He had just a handful of rotations on the ball, but he looked a step behind the pace and was quickly sent back to the goal square. Still showed elite class with his skills and set up a really nice goal. Finished up at 3 quarter time and looked a little ginger walking off the ground so there is a possibility he was carrying some soreness. We still think he will play up forward where he can be damaging on the scoreboard, and might see some rotations in the middle in those close contests because he does have the ability to break games open. All this pre-season talk of 80-20 midfield minutes seems a long way off the mark, slides well down the pecking order now.
Very stiff here because the big man didn’t do a whole lot wrong, but the big concern here is the emergence of Peter Ladhams. They had a very competitive ruck battle all day and it was hard to pick a winner. Lycett would still start the year as number one, but we definitely feel they will rotate him with Ladhams up forward which could impact his scoring. Can’t knock his game though, competed well all day and did all the right things, just have to watch how Port structure Round 1.
Basically unsighted until late in the last quarter. Bonner was the stand out off half back, but we didn’t really see the best of Burton until the last 10 minutes of the game. Leaves a few questions marks for us.
Started on the wing, played off the flanks a little but just looked a little slow and didn’t find a whole lot of the ball. Port have quite a few exciting young flankers and wingers so we probably expect Sam to spend a fair bit of time in the twos this year.
Really struggled. We weren’t counting touches but we probably only saw two or three touches from the ex Cat. Didn’t impact many contests, wasn’t a demanding presence up forward a looked a little lost out there at times. With the emergence of Georgiades it will now be even harder for him to crack the first team
Has lost his fantasy relevance. Started down back, pinch-hit up forward but didn’t see much of the ball and we doubt he will see much time on the wing or in the ruck
If you read all the AFL write-ups they were very hot on him and said he killed it, but we both thought he played just a fairly average game. Was very quiet in the first half, missed a pretty easy shot in the start of the third term and kicked his 4 goals late all while playing on Trent McKenzie who is almost 10cm shorter than the big man. Can’t knock a bloke for kicking 4 sausage rolls but he did fade in and out at times.
Largely unseen, although he did kick a very nice goal in the first half. His fantasy numbers weren’t huge in juniors, and while he might play a role in the side and get some early games we just can’t enthuse him as a fantasy option.
Played mainly as a midfielder and looked very solid. Attended a lot of centre bounces and found a bit of the ball, but as a MID only it’s hard to look at him in classic. Definitely keep an eye on him in draft leagues though.
Attended quite a few centre bounces and spent some time in the midfield but really didn’t find much of the pill. Sprayed it a little too and probably starts the year in the SANFL
We were very excited about the big X knowing how serious he takes his training regime we were hoping he would come out and have taken his game to a new level. Was largely unseen playing on the wing. Presented well and worked hard but the game style as more a kick it long and high down the wing and let the big boys fly at it, and he was rarely used in that link up type role we saw him play last year. Went off in the third term with a cut to the eye which required stitches.
Took a little while to work into the game but warmed up in the second half and was mopping up a bit of the ball on the rebound. Probably expect similar numbers to last year
Resumed his spot in defence and got a bit of the ball in the first quarter. Slowed down as the game went on, but good to see him back on the park and his first touch got a big cheer so it was good to see the crowd behind him after them being against him for a large part of his career.
Worked hard all game, but still played a lot up forward. Definitely got X-Factor, just don’t think he will see the midfield minutes he needs to make his fantasy game relevant