13/04/2024
Is Jase Burgoyne set to play on the wing? Picture: Port Adelaide

Is Jase Burgoyne set to play on the wing? Picture: Port Adelaide

20 years since its first and only AFL flag, expectation is high for Port Adelaide to win the 2024 premiership with a list that is ready to strike now.

2023 Overview

After a disappointing 2022, Port Adelaide was not considered a genuine premiership threat for 2023 and its season was a rollercoaster.

The Power convincingly defeated Brisbane in the opening round at the Adelaide Oval, before two consecutive defeats to Collingwood and Adelaide saw many think Ken Hinkley’s time as coach was over.

The club responded in remarkable fashion by winning their next 13 games, emerging as a huge flag chance and cementing a spot in the top two. This astonishing run came to a conclusion in Round 18 against a rising Carlton outfit, kickstarting a four-game losing streak that included a heartbreaker against the Magpies.

In the process, Port Adelaide lost its top two position and ultimately finished third on the table despite winning their last three games of the minor round. As a result, they were forced to play Brisbane at the Gabba in a qualifying final and were unsuccessful just like every other team who entered the Lions’ den in 2023.

The Power had one more chance against GWS at home to remain in the premiership hunt, but were wounded heading into the game and eventually lost after a second quarter burst from the Giants.

The straight sets exit saw the club receive enormous fan backlash after Hinkley was resigned for two more years during the home and away season, with several list needs that had to be corrected.

Despite their bitter end to 2023, Zak Butters officially announced himself as one of the superstars of the game. He finished equal-fourth in the Brownlow Medal count, won Port Adelaide’s best and fairest, earnt his first All-Australian blazer, awarded the AFLCA Champion Player of the Year and AFLPA Most Courageous Player.

Off-Season Changes

In: Ivan Soldo, Jordon Sweet, Esava Ratugolea, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, Tom Anastasopoulos, Lachie Charleson, Will Lorenz, Xavier Walsh

Out: Tom Jonas, Riley Bonner, Trent Dumont, Brynn Teakle, Nathan Barkla, Scott Lycett, Orazio Fantasia, Sam Hayes, Jake Pasini

Going into last year’s Trade Period, Port Adelaide had limited capital to use due to landing Jason Horne-Francis and Willie Rioli in 2022. However, their highly-talented list management team led by Jason Cripps and Geoff Parker saw the Power secure all four of their desired targets on the final day of the 2023 Trade Period.

Esava Ratugolea, Brandon-Zerk-Thatcher, Ivan Soldo and Jordon Sweet were all brought to the club to address Port Adelaide’s depleted defensive and ruck stocks.

Ratugolea and Zerk-Thatcher will provide some much-needed support to the backline, especially the former Cat who will allow Allir Allir to play the intercept marking role more frequently. Soldo looms as Port’s number one ruck, but will have healthy competition with Sweet to maintain the spot.

The Power then turned their attention to replenishing their small forward line, drafting Tom Anastasopoulos from the Geelong Falcons and Lachie Charleson from the GWV Rebels. Will Lorenz from the Oakleigh Chargers and Xavier Walsh from East Perth also made their way to Alberton, with the latter selected in the Rookie Draft.

Several players departed in the off-season, with Tom Jonas and Scott Lycett both calling time on their illustrious careers. Xavier Duursma was traded to Essendon, Orazio Fantasia headed to Carlton as a delisted free agent, Riley Bonner was selected by St. Kilda in the Pre-Season Draft, while Trent Dumont, Sam Hayes, Brynn Teakle, Jake Pasini and Nathan Barkla were all delisted.

In the coaching ranks, Tyson Goldsack was promoted as the Power’s defensive coach from the head gig at the Port Adelaide Magpies. Hamish Hartlett will now take the former Collingwood player’s position and coach the SANFL side.

More Season Previews

AFL 2024 Season Preview: Carlton

AFL 2024 Season Preview: Collingwood

AFL 2024 Season Preview: Adelaide Crows

Fixture (All Times ACDT)

Opening Round: BYE

Round 1: West Coast (Adelaide Oval) Sunday March 17, 3:30pm

Round 2: Richmond (MCG) Sunday March 24, 3:30pm

Round 3: Melbourne (Adelaide Oval) Saturday March 30, 7:00pm

Round 4: Essendon (Adelaide Oval) Friday April 5, 7:40pm

Round 5: Fremantle (Adelaide Oval) Saturday April 13, 7:00pm

Round 6: Collingwood (MCG) Saturday April 20, 1:15pm

Round 7: St. Kilda (Adelaide Oval) Friday April 26, 7:10pm

Round 8: Adelaide (Adelaide Oval) Thursday May 2, 7:00pm

Round 9: Geelong (GMHBA Stadium) Friday May 10, 6:40pm

Round 10: Hawthorn (Adelaide Oval) Sunday May 19, 2:50pm

Round 11: North Melbourne (Blundstone Arena) Saturday May 25, 1:15pm

Round 12: Carlton (Adelaide Oval) Thursday May 30, 7:00pm

Round 13: BYE

Round 14: GWS (GIANTS Stadium) Sunday June 16, 3:30pm

Round 15: Brisbane (Adelaide Oval) Saturday June 22, 1:15pm

Round 16: St. Kilda (Marvel Stadium) Date & Time TBC

Round 17: Western Bulldogs (Adelaide Oval) Date & Time TBC

Round 18: Gold Coast (Heritage Bank Stadium) Date & Time TBC

Round 19: Richmond (Adelaide Oval) Date & Time TBC

Round 20: Carlton (Marvel Stadium) Date & Time TBC

Round 21: Sydney (Adelaide Oval) Date & Time TBC

Round 22: Melbourne (MCG) Date & Time TBC

Round 23: Adelaide (Adelaide Oval) Date & Time TBC

Round 24: Fremantle (Optus Stadium) Date & Time TBC

Port Adelaide could not be any happier with their first eight games of the season, as six of those will be played at the Adelaide Oval. It gives them a huge chance to start their 2024 campaign on the right note, with high expectations on the club given their intent to win a premiership.

However, the Power’s fixture gets tough towards the backend of the year. Their last five games to end the minor round looms as a difficult stretch, with Carlton at Marvel, Sydney at home, Melbourne at the MCG, Adelaide and Fremantle at Optus.

With the confirmed fixtures, the Power have five Thursday/Friday prime time matches that includes a Thursday night away Showdown against the Crows. The teams that Port Adelaide play twice are Adelaide, Carlton, Melbourne, St. Kilda, Richmond and Fremantle.

Looking at 2024

The Power’s Trade Period that saw them land all their targets and lose their draft capital indicates they are all in on winning their first flag since 2004.

Port Adelaide are primed for a premiership tilt, plugging the holes in their list and having a core group of players that are looking to take the next step in 2024. However, pressure will mount on Ken Hinkley if he is not able to rally his troops together and give them a chance.

A new-look leadership group will also embark the field in 2024, with Connor Rozee captaining the side and flanked by Zak Butters as his vice. Dan Houston, Sam Powell-Pepper and Willem Drew round out the leadership group, with the club opting for a more youthful direction.

Jason Horne-Francis is projected to have a big 2024, off the back of a flawless pre-season. Mitch Georgiades will return from an ACL injury sustained last year, mounting pressure on a forward line that features Charlie Dixon, Jeremy Finlayson, Todd Marshall and Ollie Lord.

Port Adelaide’s favourite son, Travis Boak currently sits on 348 games and signed on for one more season after it was widely speculated that he would not be offered a new deal. If he plays the first two games of the year, the veteran will hit 350 at the MCG against Richmond.

Prediction: 4th

The heat is on Ken Hinkley and Port Adelaide this season, needing to deliver for a fanbase that no longer wishes to be frustrated and continuously craves success.

The club have consistently found themselves in the top four in recent years except for the outlier in 2022, giving themselves another genuine chance with a strengthened list.

Although there are a plethora of sides looking to improve in 2024, Port Adelaide should take advantage of their start to the season and build the foundations for another double chance.

Hinkley has shown that he is able to fend off pressure, but hasn’t taken his side to a Grand Final and must take this next step to prove his doubters wrong. Otherwise, it could be his last year at the helm despite his two-year deal.

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