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Lobbe to answer Port Adelaide's big question

Harry Thring  February 2, 2016 12:45 PM

AFL 2016 Training - Port Adelaide 260116

Port Adelaide ruckman Matthew Lobbe

MATTHEW Lobbe is set to handle the bulk of Port Adelaide's ruck duties in 2016, with Charlie Dixon to play primarily up forward.

The Power recruited Dixon in October and, at the time, he joined Lobbe and Patrick Ryder in the club's premier big man brigade.

How coach Ken Hinkley would use the trio appeared a dilemma, but he denied it was simplified when Ryder was ruled out of the 2016 season.

He insisted he still faced a problem of how to handle two ruckmen, although on Tuesday skipper Travis Boak cleared up Port's ruck picture.

"That's a discussion they're actually going through at the moment, but certainly 'Lobes' will take the majority of the ruckwork," he said.

"He's the number one ruck at the club and has been for a number of years.

"He'll take the big load and then the other forwards will come and chip in."

The ruck combination between Ryder and Lobbe was predicted to lead the competition upon Ryder's arrival at Alberton ahead of the 2015 season, but failed to live up to the hype.

Both played their best football when used predominantly as tap ruckmen, raising questions about how they might find the right balance.

But with Ryder out of the picture for this year at least, Lobbe's grip on the ruck mantle has tightened.

Boak pointed to Lobbe's form as a solo ruckman in 2013/14 as evidence he'd flourish this season.

Lobbe averaged 32 hit-outs and almost seven tackles a game in 2014.

"We saw before Paddy came in how well he handled rucking by himself, and I know that he loves the challenge," Boak said.

"He'll embrace that and he'll still have the support around him, our other key forwards and guys who can go in the ruck."