AFL Trade Period: How does Jeremy Finlayson fit in Port’s plans?

Jeremy Finlayson has found a new home at Alberton Oval after being traded from the GWS Giants today. Image: gwsgiants.com.au

Port Adelaide has added more depth to its already talented list, acquiring versatile key position player Jeremy Finlayson from GWS

The Power traded its future third-round selection to the Giants in exchange for the 25-year-old.

While Finlayson only played 13 games, kicking 24 goals in 2021, he has shown flashes of brilliance over his 66 career games at the Giants but struggled with consistency, senior coach Ken Hinkley will be looking to turn him into a consistent performer.

What will Finlayson bring?

During his seven-year career at GWS, Finlayson displayed his ability to play at both ends of the ground as a tall forward and key defender.

In 2018, Finlayson played 14 games as a key defender before moving forward in 2019 where he was an influential piece of the Giants run to the grand final, kicking 44 goals.

Finlayson plays his best football when he is used as a true centre half-forward which allows him to run up the ground presenting up to the wings to help provide a link-up target. With great speed and agility, Finlayson is also fit enough to run defenders off their feet.

Allowing Finlayson to play his natural game will help Ken Hinkley free up Charlie Dixon to spend more time deeper in the forward line where he’s the most dangerous and take away any defenders so he is able to play more one-on-one instead of having several defenders hanging off him. Finlayson will also be able to relieve some pressure off Dixon providing the Power another forward who has the potential to kick big bags of goals, Finlayson has kicked five goals in a game on three different occasions.

Finlayson is also capable of playing deep, where he can use his footy smarts and athleticism to find space inside 50. In 2019, he ranked in the top 20 in the AFL for marks inside 50, averaging 1.7 per game.

Despite only standing at 196cm, Finlayson has also spent time in the ruck which would make him a valuable second ruck option, especially if Peter Ladhams who is currently in that position is successful moving to another club.

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Who is Finlayson fighting for a spot with?

During the 2021 season, Ken Hinkley at times went with the four talls in the forward line, going with the combination of spearhead Charlie Dixon, Todd Marshall, and young gun Mitch Georgiades as the main forwards with Peter Ladhams as the second ruck who plays mainly forward.

But as we saw throughout the regular season and finals series, Port Adelaide’s forward line looked to function at its best when they played the three key forwards and the mosquito fleet of smalls (Gray, Rozee, Butters, Fantasia, Motlop).

So with the three key forwards already down at Alberton, Finlayson could be seen as depth and will be fighting with Todd Marshall for the third tall spot in the forward line.

Finlayson and Marshall are similar players, but Finlayson is more experienced playing 66 games compared to the 22-year-old who has played 55 games.

Over their careers, Finlayson outranks Marshall in key categories such as disposals (11.9 per game compared to 9.2 per game), marks (3.8 per game compared to 3.4), and goals (1.4 per game compared to 1.0 per game).

Marshall’s small developing frame limits him and doesn’t allow him to play in the ruck and to keep Charlie Dixon as deep inside 50.

Finlayson’s ability to act as a second ruck may be the deciding factor that gives him the edge if Ken Hinkley wants to use him in the 23.

If Finlayson is to play a part in Port’s road to a premiership, it will most likely be as a forward as Port Adelaide’s preferred back six looks pretty settled with tall defenders Trent McKenzie, Alliir Aliir securing spots, and Tom Clurey already struggling to break into the line-up.

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