AFL 3 years ago

Five defining questions ahead of 2016: Port Adelaide

  • Five defining questions ahead of 2016: Port Adelaide
For the teams who don't make the AFL Finals, it can be a frustrating and miserable time waiting for the off-season to start. There’s the draft to look forward to, the free agency period and the excitement and surprises that occur at the trade table.

Every AFL fan wants their team to improve in 2016. So while we patiently wait for the finals to get underway, here are a few points of interest and key questions your club has to consider in the off-season, as they look towards their 2016 campaign.

Port Adelaide - it's your turn.

1 - Who will be Port Adelaide's number one ruckman in 2016?

Paddy Ryder or Matthew Lobbe?

Pre-2015, this ruck combination was doing to be the final piece to the Port Adelaide premiership puzzle. The partnership had its moments throughout the season, but the predicted dominance of a Ryder-Lobbe ruck combination fell way short of preseason expectations.

Both players prefer to be the 'number one' ruckman. For the majority of their careers, both players have played as the lone ruckman, with the occasional chop out from another player.

In Round 20, fan favourite and vice-captain Matthew Lobbe was dropped from the senior side, and Patrick Ryder went on to have two of his best games for his new club.

Statistically as a tap ruckman, Matthew Lobbe had the better season out of the two. In 17 senior games, he averaged 30 hitouts a game. Patrick Ryder on the other hand, played in 18 games and averaged 23 hitouts.

However, Ryder's strength is his ability to move around the ground and kick goals. He kicked 18 in 2015, compared to Lobbe's 5.

So where to from now?

With the likely inclusion of Charlie Dixon next year, can the Power line-up with Ryder, Lobbe, Dixon, Westhoff and Jackson Trengrove - the latter who can all provide a great chop out as a relief ruckman?

Port Adelaide have declared Matthew Lobbe is off the trade table - but does that mean he will definitely be in Port's best 22 next season?

Who do you think should be the club's number one ruckman?
 

2 - Will Jay Schulz be apart of Port Adelaide's forward set-up in 2016?

Gold Coast's power forward Charlie Dixon will be at Port Adelaide in 2016. The key question is: will Jay Schulz be playing alongside with him?

Going into 2015, Jay Schulz was seen as a dead-eye set shot in front of goal. He was probably challenging Hawthorn's Jack Gunston for the most accurate shot at goal in the competition. Schulz, along with Westhoff were seen as the two forwards who could take Port to the promised land - the Grand Final - after narrowly missing out in 2014.

Fast forward 22 rounds of football and Jay Schulz's future at Port remains in the balance. An  uncharacteristically inconsistent  individual season was trumped by constant speculation whether Dixon would join Port Adelaide, putting doubt on Schulz's own future at the club with his contract finishing at seasons end.

In 20 games, he kicked a respectable 40 goals, adding 17 behinds. However, it seems Jay Schulz fell victim to Port's disappointing year, becoming the scapegoat for many of their poor performances.

So with Dixon on his way and Monfries, Neade, Sam Gray and Wingard at the small forward positions, does Jay Schulz have a role to play in Port's forward line next year.

Don't forget the likes of Westhoff and Butcher as the other two talls, and, if Port do use Lobbe and Ryder in the same team, one will have to rest up forward more often than not, especially with the sub rule going in 2016.

Will Schulz be used in the trade with Gold Coast for Charlie Dixon? Will he be at premiership contenders Fremantle next year? Will he be at Brisbane who are craving experience in the forward line? Or, will Schulz be at Port? You tell me.


3 - Is it worth having a look at some of the South Australian talent on the market?

Pretty simple question. There is plenty of South Australian blood on the market this year. Some are out of contract. Some are not. Some want to go home, whilst some will be desperately looking for new ones.

I've put together a list of South Australians who could be on the move. Who should your club invest in?

Jack Redden: Redden wants out of Brisbane. He made that pretty clear a few weeks ago. Redden has been a very consistent midfielder for the Lions, playing 129 games since his debut in 2009. Midfield depth is always needed, and Redden could provide good support to some of Port's leading midfield stars. He is still under contract, so a trade would need to be brokered. However, if Port are patient, they could wait a year as Redden enters free agency at the end of 2016. 

Ben Kennedy: Kennedy is a little pocket rocket who plays for the Magpies. He can play as a tough inside mid, as well as a damaging small forward. Kennedy comes out of contract next year, but he could start to look for other opportunities this year after playing only 25 games since his debut in 2013. He was Collingwood's ultimate sub this year, but after dominating in the VFL, Kennedy could gain interest from clubs looking for tough, contested ball winners.

James Aish: We all know about Aish's situation. Is he going home to South Australia? Is he starting a fresh on big money in Victoria? Or, will he shock everyone and stay up in Brisbane after two years of speculation? He's out of contract, and like Redden, provides good support in the midfield. However, would he be in Port's best 22?

Cameron Giles: Giles is an athletic defender who unfortunately hasn't registered an AFL game yet after he was delisted by Carlton today. He is a South Australian product who has been injury prone, but could Giles be worth the risk?

Brian Lake: Lake finds himself out of contract at the end of 2015. The Western Bulldogs and now Hawthorn veteran has been incredibly solid in defense for the Hawks...up until to 2016, where his form have been questioned. The younger James Frawley may take his spot next year leaving the Norm Smith medalist and two-time premiership player without a club to play for. He's a South Australian - but is he too old for Port's list management strategy. 

Troy Menzel and Sam Mayes: Both players are promising young small-mid forwards who are contracted for 2016. However, there are rumours that both players (Menzel from Carlton and Mayes from Brisbane) are homesick and want to return home to South Australia. Port fans - do you need them and do you want them? As contracted players, would you be prepared to pay overs to get them at your club sooner than later?

Daniel Gorringe - Considering Port chose Ryder over Gorringe in the 2014 off-season, it's unlikely they'd want him now in 2015. However, stranger things have happened and the South Australian ruckman is looking for a new home after being starved of opportunities at the Gold Coast. Should Port add another string to their ruckmen bow?

Are there any other players (South Australian or other) that Port Adelaide should be targeting in the off-season?


4 - What do Port Adelaide need to do in 2016 to avoid another disappointing season?

If you had told me at the start of the season that Port Adelaide had a disappointing and underwhelming 2015 campaign after beating the reigning premiers Hawthorn twice, I would of laughed at you.

But when you look at the games they should've won, and the finals they should be playing in as we speak, despite only finishing one win out of the top eight, Port didn't turn up to the party in 2015.

So, the focus now turns to 2016. What do Port have to do in 2016 to regain the faith of those they let down this year? Is it about wins? Ladder position? Off-season recruits?

Are Port still a top four side, or have the Bulldogs, Crows, Tigers and Roo's gone past them? Can they challenge the big sides next year and how will they go against the other mid-table teams (Pies, Cats, Giants). Where do Port need to finish on the ladder in 2016 to avoid a replica of 2015? What needs to happen? Who needs to perform? What is the solution?


5 - Can Chad Wingard win the Brownlow in 2016?

This is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek question - but seriously - can Chad Wingard be a Best and Fairest winner (possibly two-time if he wins again in 2015), an All-Australian (again, possible two-time depending on 2015 results), Showdown Medalist and Brownlow Medalist, all at age 22, next season?

The kid is an unbelievable talent. 89 games, 148 goals, the honours mentioned above and he boasts the title as one of the best and most exciting young players in the competition - all at 21 years of age. He is breathtaking, brilliant, exciting, prolific and a superstar that Port Adelaide (and the rest of the competition) will have to marvel at for over the next decade.

Is he the best small forward in the competition? Should he play more in the midfield? Who cares - can this kid legitimately win the Brownlow in 2016?  

Five important questions. What are your answers?

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