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Port Adelaide list changes have started with John Butcher, Kane Mitchell and Sam Colquhoun today joining Jay Schulz in not having their contracts renewed for the 2017 season. It is expected more changes will take place and an interesting case study is Jake Neade. Still only 22 years of age Neade signed a 2 year contract extension earlier this season but has the livewire shown enough to suggest he will be a long term player at Port Adelaide?
The statistics for Jake Neade in 2016 probably raise more questions than they provide answers. 17 games played for the season is the most games the 22 year old has played in an AFL season. Averaging 11.1 disposals a match and less than goal a game it is his lowest output since his first year at the club in 2013.The concern Port Adelaide must have is shouldn’t the on-field performance be trending in the opposite direction?
Some will argue it is unfair to use statistics to solely judge player performance. In the case of Jake Neade he fulfills the role of a defensive forward and part of this role is to harass and apply pressure on the opposition. How effectively Jake does this is certainly debatable, but the small forward still needs to find a way to impact the scoreboard and have a regular involvement in the game. Port Adelaide has tried to get Neade more involved by pushing him further up the ground at times but this has not consistently worked.
The reality is the 2016 season was the perfect opportunity for Jake Neade to cement a spot at AFL level due to the suspension of Angus Monfries. While an official announcement has not yet been made it is expected Monfries will get a one year deal to remain at Alberton for the 2017 season.
In 2015 the general consensus was Angus Monfries had a poor season. But a comparison between Monfries last year and Neade in 2016 confirms Monfries averaged more disposals per match (14.8 to 11.1) marks (4 to 1.8)and goals (1.2 to 0.9)Jake Neade did average 1 tackle more per game but the scoreboard impact and the ability to get the ball is still the concern.
Confidence can play a major role in any sport and after Neade played his best game at AFL level against Collingwood in round 11 in which he kicked 4 goals it was hoped this would be the catalyst for more consistent performances. Regrettably this has not been the case and it has been an extremely poor end to the season. 3 goals in his last 5 matches and less than 10 disposals in his last 4 AFL games is simply unsatisfactory and it was certainly no surprise to see Neade dropped after the Showdown.
Ken Hinkley has shown great faith in many Port Adelaide players and the club obviously sees something in Neade as they rewarded him with a contract extension. But Hinkley is under pressure himself next season and starting to realise many players have let him down in the last two years. At this point in time Jake Neade is not in the best 22 at Port Adelaide and he needs a massive pre-season. Can Jake Neade make his mark in 2017 or should Port Adelaide be looking to move him on?