Injuries are a part of football and every club will have to contend with injuries during the rigours of an AFL season. Port Adelaide generally had a good run in season 2014 injury wise when they got within a kick of a Grand Final, 2015 however was a different story. Rightfully so many look at Jared Polec and Ollie Wines who missed a lot of 2015, along with Matt White along with a mixture of short term injuries and players who were out of the side with form issues contributing to an overall poor year. But one player who missed significant football in season 2015 was Alipate Carlile who did not play a game since round 14 with a hip and back complaint. The return of Carlile will be a significant boost to a Port Adelaide defence that looked disjointed at times in 2015.
Fortunately Port Adelaide did have Jack Hombsch who stood up and had a brilliant season. One of Port Adelaide’s other key defensive pillars Jackson Trengove also missed a portion of the 2015 season playing 15 out of 22 matches. But the return of Carlile just gives Port Adelaide a more steely resolve and certainly more flexibility when Port Adelaide comes up against teams with multiple key forward targets. The injury to Carlile did allow game time to Cam O’Shea and Tom Clurey but no doubt if fit and available Carlile will slot in ahead of those two.
Carlile has returned to training in the last week ahead of schedule and is keen to make up for lost time. Carlile will still be on a modified program due to the hip injury but has declared he is feeling pain free. It was obvious Port Adelaide was missing the outside run of players such as Polec this year, but missing a key defender in the prime of their career was a significant loss to the side which was overlooked by many in the media when looking at reasons why Port Adelaide struggled at times.
Carlile has had fitness issues in his career, most notably in 2012 when he was dropped to the SANFL by then coach Matthew Primus for below par fitness standards, but Carlile has generally been very reliable under Ken Hinkley. Returning to the club to get a head start shows maturity and that Carlile is serious about 2016. The good news for Port Adelaide supporters is the whole club looks serious in wanting to move on from 2015 and Port Adelaide is certainly a better team with Alipate Carlile in it.