Power borrows from US playbook

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 19 Januari 2013 | 14.43

Port Adelaide Power recruit Jack Hombsch is a possible replacement for departed Troy Chaplin. Picture: Sarah Reed. Source: The Advertiser

PORT Adelaide will take an NFL-style approach to protecting its goal this season, with new defensive coach Matthew Nicks' portfolio expanded to include opposition ball movement.

In a move away from the traditional model of a defence coach purely focusing on the performance of the back six, Nicks has been charged with directing what the entire team does when the opposition players have possession.

To achieve this Nicks has been given greater access to the forward and midfield groups over summer to ensure all are aware of their roles when Port is trying to get the ball back.

"It's about team defence ... we've gone really big on that this year," Nicks said.

"It's heading more that way into the mould of the NFL. What do we do when we have the football? And what are we doing when we don't have the football?

"The change in our coaching structure has helped in allowing us to work with our forwards and mids.

"It's been a fantastic eye-opener for the group."

We've lost a fair bit of experience ... but I think the guys we've brought in have really stepped up

Port's backline is headed for a transition year after the departures of Troy Chaplin, Danyle Pearce and Jacob Surjan. The trio had a combined 415 games of AFL experience and most of the Power's replacement options are pretty green.

Injury-plagued youngster Jasper Pittard is being given every opportunity to take over Pearce's rebounding role, with recruits Lewis Stevenson and Campbell Heath the competition.

Jack Hombsch is the front-runner to replace Chaplin and join Alipate Carlile and Jackson Trengove in a trio of talls.

"It's quite a different looking backline," Nicks said.

"We've lost a fair bit of experience ... but I think the guys we've brought in have really stepped up."

And the coaching staff have not yet decided whether Domenic Cassisi will spend more time in the midfield or defence this season, while the shutdown role filled chiefly by Tom Logan late last season appears up for grabs.

Nicks, who has replaced Brad Gotch, said new coach Ken Hinkley had stressed the importance of defence since his arrival.

"Ken definitely comes from that mould, in terms of defending being very important, and we've put a real focus on it this off season," Nicks said.

"The opportunity to take the back six was definitely a priority for me and I feel a lot more comfortable working with guys in that area than what I probably would up forward.

"That's purely because of where I come from - the Sydney background. We really valued it up there.

"Back from 2000 to 2005 we didn't have the talent a lot of sides did and we knew if we were going to win games we had to be able to defend."

The six teams that conceded the fewest number of points during the minor round went furthest in the finals, including premier Sydney, which had the stingiest backline.

Port conceded 97 points per game last year, a marked improvement on the previous season (121 points per game) but still well above the league average (92 points per game).


2007: 92 points (ranked 10th)

2008: 100 points (11th)

2009: 102 points (13th)

2010: 97 points (11th)

2011: 121 points (16th)

2012: 97 points (14th)

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