Port Adelaide highlighted their premiership credentials with a two-point win over Richmond, but it came at a huge cost.
Ken Hinkley’s side got a much-needed four points against the reigning premier on Friday night and boy it did not come easy. It was a tense game from the opening bounce and while the Power got the victory in the end, they paid the price for the heavyweight clash with numerous players injured.
Connor Rozee, Xavier Duursma, Zak Butters, Tom Jonas, Orazio Fantasia, and Tom Clurey were just a few to suffer injuries and knocks throughout the clash.
Young gun Rozee suffered a corked thigh early on and played through the pain barrier for the rest of the contest and is expected to be fit to face the Blues on Saturday night. Duursma was forced off late in the last term after he landed awkwardly after a tackle that injured his right knee and will now require surgery to fix his lateral ligament and it is likely he will not be back until late in the 2021 season. Butters will also go under the knife as he suffered ankle syndesmosis which rules him out for at least the next month.
Fantasia rolled his ankle during the clash and was seen hobbling off, but like Rozee is expected to take his place on Saturday. With so many players suffering knocks and with Butters and Duursma out for the next month or so at least, the opportunity to see Port’s depth will be one to watch with anticipation.
Todd Marshall could be in line to return after being a late out against the Tigers along with Miles Bergman. Tom Rockliff could also be in the frame to return to the AFL side and Sam Powell-Pepper is still considered to be a week or two away from a return.
It was a win that Port Adelaide had to have after their smashing at the hands of West Coast but the win over Richmond has come at a cost. Losing Duursma and Butters for an extended period while having several other stars sustain heavy knocks, Hinkley could be forced to shuffle the deck on Saturday.
All preseason Port has repeatedly stated they have a “squad mentality” as when one player goes down, another will step in and do a job for the team. There are likely to be at least two changes for the Power, it represents another opportunity for Bergman and Lachie Jones (he has to keep his place) to play well enough to cement their places in the team.
Every Port fan knows the club has some serious depth at its disposal and with Carlton, St.Kilda, Brisbane, and a rejuvenated Adelaide side to come in the next month, that depth is going to be severely tested.
Port Adelaide set the record straight against the reigning premier on Friday night but will now be forced to go against two highly fancied teams in the Saints and Lions along with a tough Showdown and a trip to face a tricky Blues side, this next month could be crucial in Port’s season.
There is no doubt the Port possesses some of the best young players in the competition in Butters, Rozee, Duursma but with two of them out for the foreseeable future, it will be up to the next crop in Bergman and Jones just to name a few to step up and fill their shoes.
Injuries are never a good thing in football but what it does is give players a chance when otherwise they would not. Bergman and Jones could be set for an extended run in the AFL side and that can only be a good thing while we watch them develop into proper Port Adelaide footballers. The win over Richmond was incredible but it did come at a cost, but it is one that Port can overcome because of the squad depth at their disposal.
Exciting times are ahead Port fans and the fact that we have so many young players staking their claim for a spot in the AFL side is something that should excite the entire fanbase.
Will they be able to sustain it as Port challenges for a premiership? Time will tell