Two matches played in the JLT series and two poor performances from Port Adelaide already have some supporters concerned before the season officially begins. A lack of goals, questionable structure, minimal pressure on the opposition and ball use that can best be described as diabolical. Should Power fans legitimately be concerned or is it too early to push the panic button?
A win against Hawthorn in the final pre-season game is certainly needed to generate some much needed energy and positivity at Alberton. But one positive in the pre-season thus far is the form of Joe Atley and it would be no surprise to see the first year player line up in round one against the Swans at the SCG.
Drafted with pick 32 the midfielder is solidly built at 85 kilos and appears physically ready to handle the rigours of AFL football. The 18 years old has the ability to win the ball at stoppage and while his skills are still developing they already appear competent which cannot be said for many of his more senior teammates.
Port Adelaide gave the Victorian his first taste of AFL football with a half against St Kilda in the first JLT match where he impressed and against Richmond he was one of the better contributors for the Power in the 28 point loss. Despite only having 60% game time he battled manfully throughout the day with 14 disposals, 4 clearances and kicked a classy goal. A single goal might not sound all that impressive but it was as many goals as any Port Adelaide key forward managed to kick for the day.
The Atley name is already well known in AFL circles with Joe’s Brother Shaun at the Kangaroos. The older sibling has been able to give his younger brother an insight into life as an AFL footballer. “Shaun’s given me a good insight into what it takes to stay in the system and it’s pretty basic. Work hard, nothing comes easy and you won’t get anything given to you”
The hard work appears to be paying off and another solid display against the Hawks should see Ken Hinkley pencil the 18 year old in for round one selection. With his attack on the ball and high work rate Joe Atley offers something many on the Port list currently do not.
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