No fuss and limited fanfare, Willem Drew is slowly making a name for himself at Port Adelaide

The 22-year-old midfielder has flown under the radar this season and continues to play a crucial role for Ken Hinkley in 2021 with a host of credible performances.

Young Port Adelaide midfielder Willem Drew just goes about his football in Port Adelaide’s midfield with minimal fuss. Drew can play both on the inside and outside and can get forward and kick a goal.

Originally from North Ballarat, Drew was taken in the 2016 draft and was known as a midfielder with a big frame and could make the right decisions under pressure. Unfortunately, injuries hampered his progress for several years but in 2019, Drew finally got his body right and got his chance in the AFL side.

Ollie Wines’ now-infamous shoulder injury in the off-season of 2019 opened the door for Willem to debut in round one against Melbourne. He managed ten games that year, averaging 16 disposals and six tackles before injuries again ruined his season and parts of the 2020 campaign. Now that his injuries are behind him, Drew is taking his opportunity with both hands.

His performances this season have gone under the radar and when you have players like Ollie Wines, Travis Boak, Zak Butters, Conor Rozee, Sam Powell-Pepper, Karl Amon, Robbie Gray, Dan Houston, and Xavier Duursma in the midfield it can be hard to get the recognition you deserve but make no mistake, Drew is acquitting himself very well at the AFL level.

The 22-year-old is now averaging 18 disposals and five tackles in his eight games he this year and has hit the scoreboard as well with three goals to his name. His best performance to date was his career-high 32 disposal game against the Lions. He along with Ollie Wines were the only players to stand up in what was a pretty poor performance all-round from Port.

Willem Drew’s career day against Brisbane

- 32 disposals

- 1 goal

- 22 pressure acts

- 13 contested possessions

- 9 score involvements

- 5 clearances

Drew followed up the best game of his career with another decent outing in Showdown 49. 16 touches, 11 of which were contested, 29 pressure acts (ranked third for the game), and in a tough and tense game, went at 75% by foot.

He is making himself virtually impossible to drop right now and even if Tom Rockliff was fully fit he still would not dislodge Drew’s place in the Port Adelaide side. His disposal numbers do not exactly jump out at you but there is clear value in the way he goes about his football. His last quarter performance against reigning premier Richmond is one that should be talked about more often as he was an absolute monster.

Disposal counts of 17, 25, 15 (1 goal), 13, 14 (sub) 17, 32, and 16 make it look like he isn’t setting the league alight, but his value to the Port Adelaide side is not based solely on his numbers. Although it is good when he gets his hands on the ball, his superb workrate, along with his in and under work are the catalyst for players like Travis Boak, Ollie Wines, and the like to get Port going forward. His big body and his ability to constantly pressure the opposition at the coalface are things that largely go unnoticed.

Drew was made to wait for his chance at the big time as injuries stopped him from making an impression early on, but now he has his chance at Port Adelaide and he is grabbing it with both hands.

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