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“Everything is on the table. We’ve said that exactly to the players. That’s what happens when you don’t get the performances that you want. You have to make changes. And we will be aggressive in that change - we certainly need to be that”
This was the quote from Ken Hinkley on the eve of the trade period. Now that the trade period has closed it appears not only has Port Adelaide failed to keep their end of the bargain, they have failed miserably.
The changes made so far to the 2016 playing list is extremely underwhelming. All the noise out of Alberton was that players would be held accountable for poor performance. But of the players who have departed since the end of the season not one was a regular AFL player in 2016. Let’s be blunt, the players who have been moved on are not the reason Port Adelaide had a poor 2016 season.
GAMES PLAYED IN 2016
Certainly it has to be acknowledged Port has had its hands tied somewhat with trying to move on players on long term deals. Hamish Hartlett has elected to remain at Alberton and the Power was unable to garner much interest in Matthew Lobbe. A ruckman who does not provide ruck advantage, averages 8 disposals a game, 1 mark and hasn’t kicked a goal since 2015. Lobbe is on good money with three years remaining on a contract so understandably no AFL clubs were keen. If only Port Adelaide had a time machine and could go back and accepts last year’s ludicrous offer from the Western Bulldogs.
As at Wednesday the only business Port Adelaide had completed in the trade period was to trade away next season’s first round selection for pick 19 and 30 this year. The club is obviously well aware how this trade is being viewed by many. The club website and social media platforms were in overdrive trying to sell the positive message “We have 3 top 30 picks in the national draft” as well as talking up the strong draft crop in this draft. Time will tell if the decision is a good one but after trading away first round picks in recent seasons for Paddy Ryder and Charlie Dixon it is easy to see why some fans and experts are concerned with this strategy.
Port Adelaide also managed to complete a final move in the closing moments of the trade period. Trading away picks 9, 19 and 49 to the Swans with picks 14,17,31 coming back from the Swans. Like the previous pick swap, the jury is certainly out on this decision.
The access to AFL clubs during the trade period has certainly been first class and Power fans have heard regular dialogue and attempted explanation from Football Manager Chris Davies and List Manager Jason Cripps. Certainly the interview with Jason Cripps on 5AA Tuesday afternoon was interesting, even if it was somewhat uninspiring. Davies has also had to face his fair share of tough questions as the club administration do not appear to be backing up their own words on making meaningful change.
So that brings us to the re-signing of Tom Jonas. A former member of the leadership group and by all reports well respected within the club. But a reported three year deal is simply unacceptable, negligent and again is proof that poor performance is being rewarded .The AFL is a results driven industry and Port Adelaide management obviously did not get the memo.
If Tom Jonas is fit and playing well by all means he is probably in the best 22 at Port Adelaide. But his last two seasons have been poor. In 2015 Jonas should have been dropped to the SANFL early in the season due to questionable form. He was finally dropped back to the SANFL after the round 14 clash with Sydney, one of the worse games of his career to date.
It is also pretty difficult to put a positive spin on season 2016 for Tom Jonas. Mixed form like many others and really the only lasting memory many will have is the six game suspension for his hit on Andrew Gaff in round 9. Also dealing with injury the 25 year old did not play another game at AFL level after round 9.
Two poor seasons and reportedly minimal interest for Jonas in the trade period has seen him rewarded with a three year contract. Contracts should not be charity and should be earned. Offer a one year deal with clauses in place if required to earn another deal after this. Start making players accountable for on-field performance.
The optimists hope that some luck will see Port Adelaide back at the pointy end of the table next season after two years without finals football. The return of Paddy Ryder and Angus Monfries to provide a boost. The hope that some of the senior players can recapture their best form along with the continued development in players such as Darcy Byrne-Jones, Logan Austin and Jarman Impey among others means it is not all doom and gloom. Early picks give Port a chance to hopefully bring in some quality but it is still a massive risk.
One of the hallmarks of the successful Port Adelaide teams of the past was an expectation of performance. Failure to meet those high standards would result in change. The Creed was not a marketing slogan; it was a meaningful template for success and accountability for everyone associated with the club. Based on current evidence it appears those days are long gone.