17/04/2024

Mitch Georgiades is firming as the next in line to lead Port's forward group. (Photo: Port Adelaide FC)

Mitch Georgiades showcased his abilities against a stubborn Adelaide side, and could be the answer to Port Adelaide's over-reliance on Charlie Dixon.

Mitch Georgiades booted four goals in an impressive display on Saturday against the Crows to put his hand up to take over the forward line in Charlie Dixon’s absence.

Port Adelaide managed to move past a stubborn Adelaide Crows outfit by 37 points at Richmond Oval. However, as is the case with preseason games, it is not about the result, rather the game within the game.

The new structures, players in different positions and in Mitch Georgiades’ case, firming as the next in like to Charlie Dixon’s throne.

That might be a big call for a 20-year-old still finding his way in league football, but the tape doesn’t lie. Against the Crows, Georgiades was the leader of the forward line, booting four goals straight, having 10 disposals and four score involvements.

Such has Port Adelaide’s reliance on Charlie Dixon been over the years for everything it does going forward, when the towering 31-year-old is not in the side, the team struggles mightily. That was clear in the first half.

This has been a common theme for the last two to three seasons, and is a problem still yet to be rectified.

With a gusty wind behind its back, Port resorted to long bombing the ball inside 50. It was almost in hope something would materialise, rather than expecting it to. It is eerily similar to days gone by even when Dixon was the focal point of attack.

It wasn’t until the eyes were lowered going inside 50 that Port began to see the fruits of its labor. Georgiades was a beneficiary of this, and such is his aerial prowess, even when Port resorted to long bombs, he took flight several times and managed to come down with a serious grab early in the last term.

Georgiades next to step up?

The pick 18 in the 2019 National Draft has shown signs of his high-flying potential and his straight goalkicking. Last season, the 20-year-old booted 32 goals in his 21 games, and was a multiple goalkicker 11 times, with his best return being four against Essendon in Round 2 and St Kilda in Round 18.

The forward line functioned rather well in the second half of the practice game, with Georgiades the shining light. Recruit Jeremy Finlayson (three goals) and Todd Marshall (one goal) worked well without the team’s main spearhead.

Last season, we saw the impact that Dixon can have on games for Port, but such is the reliance on him, it often goes to him no matter what. When Dixon is missing or being well held, the side lacks any real presence.

Given his age, there is likely only a couple of seasons left for the hulking forward, and just who is going to be the next one to step up and take control of the forward line?

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Based on what the tape tells us, that is Georgiades. Marshall has shown glimpses, but the 23-year-old at this stage is not capable of leading the forward line.

Finlayson could turn out to be ‘that guy’, but it is too early to tell. With Georgiades showing his talent last season, he has every tool in his kit bag to be Port’s leading man in the future.

Still an infant in football terms, the areas of growth for what he could become at AFL level are scary. The midfield is going to have the likes of Connor Rozee, Willem Drew, Dan Houston and Zak Butters spending more time in the middle. That is set for the next decade.

The defence has only one player over 30 years of age (Tom Jonas) and other young stars in Miles Bergman, Lachie Jones, along with Aliir Aliir and Ryan Burton to lead the way for the foreseeable future. But the forward line is craving out for a player to take it over. That is Georgiades.

Port coach Ken Hinkley spoke to the media after Saturday’s game, putting faith in his youngster and the forward structure.

“We know what Mitch [Georgiades] is capable of and he showed that today,” Hinkley said.

“The three talls [Georgiades, Marshall, Finlayson] worked really well together. It puts us in a reasonable position for Round 1.”

Is it time for Dixon to pass the crown? After season 2022, Port Adelaide could have a new king leading its forward line.

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