“When you miss out on the finals two years in a row, to sit here and say our list isn't too far away is wrong." An accurate assessment from Ken Hinkley on where things currently sit at Port Adelaide. Change to the playing list is needed at Alberton, but many did not think it would possibly include vice-captain Hamish Hartlett departing.
List changes have already begun with Jay Schulz, John Butcher, Sam Colquhoun and Kane Mitchell being advised they were no longer required beyond 2016. Alipate Carlile also announced his retirement last week.
While it represents five changes to the playing list and provides opportunity to bring new players into the club, they are not changes that solve the issue in why Port Adelaide performed below expectation this year. These five players played only 16 AFL games between them in 2016. Ken Hinkley has obviously decided change needs to also take place with players who failed to consistently deliver at AFL level.
Make no mistake about it, Hamish Hartlett will not be the only Port player to be shopped around during the trade period. Last year there was strong interest in both Hamish Hartlett and Matthew Lobbe in particular from rival clubs. The non-trade of Lobbe to the Western Bulldogs will go down as one of the worst decisions in Port Adelaide history. Especially given it gave the club an opportunity to get a first round pick back after trading their first round pick away in the previous three seasons.
Hartlett ignored the interstate interest this time last year, most notably from North Melbourne and signed a long term contract to remain at Alberton. Port Adelaide obviously rate Hamish highly or he would not have been offered a long term deal, and he would not have been elevated to vice-captain status at the club. It certainly shows a lot can change in 12 months. Is the Hamish Hartlett situation now an admission from the club they got it wrong with signing multiple long-term deals?
The cynics seem to think there is no chance Hartlett will leave Alberton. Perhaps this is a ploy from the club to try and send a message and put a rocket up Hartlett to perform more consistently. Others suggest the 26 year old is prime example of a player who has continually underperformed and he is the ideal player for Ken Hinkley to trade away to obtain a quality draft pick in return. Hartlett should be in the prime of his career but his full potential is not being realised after 127 AFL games.
Hartlett’s manager Michael Doughty was upfront when interviewed last week regarding his client and the conversations Hamish has had with Port “They have just asked if he thinks he can get the best out of himself at Port Adelaide. They have got to make some changes on their list. They are just seeing what they can and what they can’t do. They’re not pushing Hamish out the door and if he wants to stay, he’ll stay”
Hammer is certainly a popular figure at the club and he is a fan favorite. The Port playing list is certainly close knit and some question what kind of affect a trade such as this would have on the playing group morale. The AFL is a results driven industry and the club is not running a friendship fun club and perhaps now is the time to make an example out of a senior player.
Like many others I hope we see the best of Hamish Hartlett in Power colors next year. Ken Hinkley himself is under pressure next year and will not want to miss finals for a third consecutive season or his own position will be under serious review. At the very least the discussion on Hamish Hartlett should act as a reminder to Port Adelaide players they need to ship up or shape out.
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