The return of Nathan Krakouer to the Port Adelaide side against Richmond cannot be underestimated. While 14 touches do not suggest a particularly dominant game, the return of some quality ball use and decision making to the team was a very welcome addition as Port Adelaide registered a 35 point victory over the Tigers.
The issues of Nathan Krakouer in the off-season are well documented. A club imposed suspension after a nightclub incident in which Krakouer suffered a broken jaw. While Krakouer was a victim of the attack he was in a position that he should not have been in, out drinking while recovering from injury. Some felt this could have possibly been the end for Krakouer after Port Adelaide had shown a lot of faith in allowing Krakouer to return to the club after his exit to the Gold Coast Suns at the end of 2010.
After all the hard work to get upgraded from the rookie list at the end of 2015 it was a disappointing outcome for Krakouer who had shown he still had the capability to play AFL football after 14 games in 2015. Ken Hinkley made it clear Krakouer would need to win back the trust of his team mates and coaches during the course of the year. Performances like Saturday night will certainly help.
Krakouer only played one game back at the Port Magpies before being recalled to the AFL line-up last weekend. It was a great show of faith from the coaching staff. Krakouer didn’t exactly dominate in his SANFL return but Hinkley decided to throw Krakouer another AFL lifeline when it would have been very easy to ignore and make Krakouer bide his time.
Not only does Nathan Krakouer take some of the pressure off players like Jasper Pittard and Matthew Broadbent to provide run in the back half, he is also very capable in playing a defensive role. This certainly allows Port Adelaide more flexibility to move other players around.
An example of a player Port Adelaide has struggled with massively is Eddie Betts from Adelaide who has generally had a picnic against Port Adelaide. The only time Krakouer has played against Adelaide and Eddie Betts was round 16 last year. Betts scored 1 goal for the game, with Krakouer spending some time on the live wire forward.
It is certainly the best result Port Adelaide has had against Betts. The statistics for Eddie Betts against Port Adelaide does not make pleasant reading. A return of 18 goals in four other matches certainly confirms the Eddie Betts Show is in full swing against Port Adelaide. I am sure the other Power defenders will feel a bit more at ease if Krakouer is one of the players to handle Betts when the teams meet later in the season.
It is still very difficult to get a handle on Port Adelaide’s overall form line. 3 losses in the opening 6 games by a combined margin of 192 points indicate there is still a lot of work to do. But Port Adelaide is certainly a much better side with Nathan Krakouer in it and if Krak can repay the faith from Ken Hinkley then Port Adelaide will be the beneficiary.