23/04/2024

Port Adelaide forward Mitch Georgiades kicks at goal. (Photo: AFL)

With four tall forwards to rotate through the forward 50, Mitch Georgiades admits that the Port Adelaide attacking structure still needs work. But with Charlie Dixon briefly sidelined, a new opportunity has presented itself.

A month and a half out from its first game of 2022, Port Adelaide is still working out its best forward line structure.

After the emergence of its young stars over the last few seasons, and the addition of a new face this year, coach Ken Hinkley has plenty of thinking left to do.

Charlie Dixon will once again be the key focal point of the group, taking on the opposition’s best key defender. After an injury interrupted 2019, he’s kicked 82 goals in 42 games, including earning All-Australian selection in 2020.

But who will be making up the supporting act around him, is still the unknown.

Youngsters Todd Marshall and Mitch Georgiades asserted themselves as best 22 tall options last season, with the pair both playing 21 games each.

Marshall managed 24 goals, while Georgiades kicked 32, showing no chance of the second year blues and earning a rising star nomination.

But this season, the two could find themselves fighting for game time with GWS recruit Jeremy Finlayson.

Standing at 196cm, Finlayson started life at the Giants as an intercepting defender before making the switch to the forward line in 2019. He stunned the AFL world with 44 goals in his 23 games before an interrupted 2021 saw him quieten down.

With the Power more than settled down back for key position players, the likely route for Hinkley’s side seems to be playing him up forward.

While this could leave the team top heavy, Georgiades believes all four have a spot in the best 22.

“It’s something we can’t test out right now with Charlie being here, but we’re all trying to work on things,” the 20-year-old told media on Wednesday.

“I think we all have the ability to play together. We all have such different talents and the ability to get up and down the ground between Todd, Jez and myself… and we all know what Charlie brings.

“We’ll have to get that together and test it, but I’m sure we can.”

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The Power have been without Dixon for the past week and a half, after fears that the forward would require surgery after an awkward training incident.

Four weeks is the current update, with no more recent time frame given.

But what it does do is give Port Adelaide the chance to solidify what its structure might look without Dixon to kick to.

Dixon has become known for his powerful contested marking, ranked elite for the statistic with 2.5 a game last season. By contrast, Marshall averages a similar amount of marks inside 50 (1.6 to Dixon’s 1.8), but over half the contested marks a game.

The same can be said for Georgiades and Finlayson, who averaged 1.2 and 0.5 contested marks a game in 2021.

But Georgiades leads them all for marks inside 50 per game, averaging 2.1 per match. He’s become known for his clean hands above his head, and could utilise that strength as a true centre half forward.

What he lacks in height compared to the other forwards is made up for in his mobility. He’s also a strong user of the footy when he has the ball in his hands, disposing at 70 per cent accuracy in 2021.

While he might not have that freedom in his role every week, with no certainties the best 22 will be available at any given time due to health and safety protocols, Georgiades is confident he could even line up as the number key forward if needed.

“That’d be a great challenge,” he said.

“Whether it’s down here at the park at Alberton we’ve got some great defenders. Whether it’s Aliir, Tom Jonas, it’s really good to get some practice under those boys that usually goes to Charlie.

“To have them playing on me is a really great learning curve. It’s great for all of us to have that experience.”

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