What I Love About My Team In 2024 – Port Adelaide


We love it here at The Mongrel, and it is always best expressed by our writwrs for their chosen teams.

This year, as we head toward Round One, I hand them the ball and ask – what do you love about your team in 2024?

Let’s see what they come up with. Jarred Ophorst is up as he champions his Port Adelaide Power. – HB



In the last ten years, the Port Adelaide Football Club are largely a winning team. There have been a few lapses where finals were missed but the DNA of the club in the last decade is a team that exists to win. 

The issue is that the club’s motto doesn’t say “we exist to win regular season matches against the Gold Coast Suns”.

No, what it does say is “we exist to win premierships”. In 2024, that is what the Port Adelaide Football Club will do. Hopefully.

Is this just overconfident, biased, hopeful, oneeyed supporter wishful thinking? Maybe, but quite frankly I just do not care. 

The fact of the matter is that there is a lot to love about Port Adelaide in 2024. There are a myriad of reasons Port haven’t been able to go all the way under Ken Hinkley’s coaching tenure, but I’d argue this is the best the list has looked in his time and has become his best opportunity to win it all. 

The Power have list depth across all lines that the club hasn’t had the luxury of in quite a while thanks to some shrewd recruiting. A change in leadership will spark renewed enthusiasm, driven by some exciting young talent that are determined to live up to the hype that has built around them over the last five years. A soft start to the year will spark memories of that incredible streak last year and inspire this team to bigger things. 

As a supporter, it’s just about believing the boys can do it.


The Travis Boak Effect:

It is no secret Travis Boak is, potentially, the most professional athlete in the AFL. His preparation and standards are second to none and have allowed him to enjoy a long and relatively healthy career. This off-season, Jason Horne-Francis joined Boak in the mountains of Colorado for a training camp that may well be the making of the man. 

We saw glimpses in 2023 of how impactful this kid can be with a few best on ground performances and some of his individual quarters in quieter games were breathtaking in their ferociousness on the footy. While he may not have got the total reward last year, I love the idea of resting him forward. His pace and frame are tough to go with, add to it the fact he’d likely get the third or fourth best defender and the possibilities are endless. 

I am genuine in the belief that he’s got a season of 25 touches and a goal a game in him, his ceiling is that high. Is this the year he puts everything together? I believe it is. 


Momentum is Everything:

2023 saw the Power produce the longest win streak of the year, going 13 in a row with some incredible matches and moments. It seemed belief continued to build with each game and the boys were able to keep on keeping on and finding ways to win. While even the most optimistic Port supporters knew it had to end at some stage, it was hard not to be swept up in the moment. 

This year, the Power have a pretty favourable draw to start the year. I’ve got them winning at least eight of their first eleven games to really set them up for another finals assault. Banking early wins is vital for a finals berth and the reality is the run home will not be easy, ending the year with matches against Carlton, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Freo away. 

The dream is these early year wins compound the belief and carry the team through the tougher back end of the season. Last year’s streak came in the softer part of the draw for Port and regardless of the opponent, it was exciting. I may have told anyone who would listen that a premiership is an inevitability. The advantage of the draw this year is that the boys will be hardened. Winning the early games will build the finals push, and they’ll be able to test themselves in the mid to back end of the year against the better sides. In my opinion, this group will be ruthless, and top four beckons.


Helping the Hopeless: The Story of the Port Adelaide Backline

Ask any Port Adelaide supporter what had them most nervous come finals time last year and they’ll likely all agree that our defence were going to be under the pump. The mid season streak was built on midfield brilliance from Butters and co which largely papered over the cracks of the defence. 

The backs were clearly undersized all year. 

Aliir was brilliant as usual, however, he was forced to play more one on one than him, or the coaching staff, would like. We just did not have the size to go with the Hawkins’ of the AFL world. When the better teams brought repeat entries and fast ball movement, the boys were found out. Enter Esava Ratugolea and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher. While not out and out stars of the comp, these guys are just a better match up for the bigger forwards which will allow players like Aliir, Bergman (more on him later) and McKenzie a more balanced match up, and more opportunities to intercept and attack. 

There is, for the first time in a long time, genuine competition for spots down back which is a luxury Port Adelaide have rarely had in the past. The influx of these new guys will give Ken Hinkley a rare opportunity to find a mix of players that suit the game style of modern, running footy to place around the bigger blokes. Prepare to see players like Williams, Burgoyne, Jones, Houston and even someone like a Ryan Burton display a flare that they really haven’t had a chance to show the AFL world of late. And speaking of new players…


Filling a Good Hole

Who doesn’t love filling a hole? It’s satisfying, it calms the mind, quite honestly, it’s just a relief when you’ve finished up the hard work.

Yep, gardening can be quite rewarding.

You know who else loves filling holes? Port Adelaide list manager Jason Cripps.

The list management team in my opinion didn’t get enough credit for their off-season moves. We’ve talked about the addition of the key defenders and the balance it will bring to the backline, but the ruck moves this off season should not be overlooked. I am a firm believer your ruck does not need to be your best player, just take a look at last year’s grand finalists. 

Ivan Soldo and Jordon “Tooth” Sweet are guys that deserved more opportunities to play at the top flight and were just a victim of circumstance playing behind Nankervis and English respectively. There seems to be more talk of Soldo being the guy to take the role of number one ruck, but I’m not so sure. And yes, while Soldo has played more AFL footy, Tooth was clearly a class above VFL footy last year. 

I’d like to see Ken take a good look at the big Tooth in the pre-season hit outs against Freo and the Crows. Darcy and O’Brien are experienced, big bodied campaigners and it will be interesting to see how the two new blokes crack in against them. My call? Tooth starts round one and seizes his first real opportunity to be a starting AFL ruck. Expect a solid year from The Dentist.


The New Number One

It was announced this off season Connor Rozee had signed a deal tying him to the club until 2032 and along with it, handed the number one guernsey as captain of the Port Adelaide Football Club. 

I think this is a great call by the club. While yes, he is still a young guy, that contract and his undoubted ability mean he has time to develop into the role, while still being surrounded by guys like Boak, Wines and to a lesser extent Charlie Dixon, who have that experience and knowledge to share with the younger core. Supported by Butters, Powell-Pepper, Houston, and Drew, this is a young leadership core that can carry the club for the next five to ten years. 

Stability is such an underrated aspect of a football club. There is evidence everywhere that shows it breeds success whether it be as a playing group or coaching staff. Look at Joel Selwood, Scott Pendlebury and Luke Hodge as perfect examples of this. Rozee has all the talent in the world. He’s my favourite player to watch with his dynamic movement and lethal ball disposal. Once he settles into his new role, there is no doubt in my mind we’ll be looking at a historic Port Adelaide captain.

Zak Butters is the perfect deputy to Rozee. He probably could captain the club, but I feel it may have impacted his footy more than it would Rozee. He plays with such a hard edge that can, at times, get him in trouble. You don’t want your captain missing games, and you don’t want Butters to be anything but completely committed to every contest. This is the perfect fit for the young star. Expecting another huge year out of him.


Miles Bergman: All Australian

I couldn’t write this article without chucking in a left field All Australian pick and this year, Miles Bergman is my guy.

Similar to Jason Horne-Francis, he showed glimpses last year of his undoubted ability. The issue as I’ve mentioned is that Port’s defence didn’t allow him an opportunity to show it on a regular occasion. Pushed up to a wing at times he seemed to drift in and out of games. When he kicked three goals in the first quarter against GWS last year he was on track for a true breakout performance but faded out of the game from then on. 

This year, expect to see him intercepting for fun and really driving the ball up the ground.  I can’t see him engaging in a huge amount of one on one contests given there are enough guys to fill that role. If I’m Ken Hinkley, I’m telling him to play a see ball get ball style of game, use that athleticism to go for big grabs and back yourself in to pull it off.

As an aside, I think we’ll see Dylan Williams really evolve this year for the same reasons as Bergman. Williams was an ultra reliable small defender last year but was dropped at times for reasons I genuinely could not tell you. He may have the most generic name in footy, but this kid will be a seriously good defender in time. Look out for him in 2024.

When I asked to write an article about things I love about the Power this year, I’ll admit I had reservations at first. The reason? I thought there wasn’t a lot to love about Port in 2024. 

There’s a myriad of reasons for this but largely, I think I became jaded with the regular season successes not translating to finals wins. It’s hard to get your hopes up just to be let down and last year, given the streak and some incredible individual performances, that feeling of being let down after that finals series was probably justified.

As I wrote though, as I studied the list, analysed the draw and individual players, I did something I thought I wouldn’t find any way of doing this year. 

I started to believe. And I started to love where this club is at heading into 2024. Is there a fair bit of supporter bias and wishful thinking in my words? Absolutely. I regret absolutely none of it though. Without passionate supporters, the game wouldn’t be what it is.

As a minimum this year, the Power should be eying a Prelim. That may seem a harsh mark but the tools are there to pull it off. The ceiling? Win the whole damn thing. It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying you need to lose one to win one or some other empty football mantra, but this list really has the potential to do it. 

There is nothing to suggest this is a team that will regress in 2024. The list has improved, the young players have extra experience under their belt and the draw will set them up for a finals assault. 

Believe Power fans, it’s our year.