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New Port trio add spark and plug holes

Connor Rozee was the fifth overall pick in a promising draft haul for the Power - AFL,Draft,Port Adelaide Power
Connor Rozee was the fifth overall pick in a promising draft haul for the Power

PORT Adelaide has replaced the X-factor and outside speed it lost in the NAB AFL Trade Period, with draftees Connor Rozee, Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma shaping as exciting replacements for departed stars Chad Wingard, Jared Polec and Jasper Pittard.

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After a disappointing finish to 2018 that saw it miss the finals, Port was one of the most active clubs in this year's player exchange period.

It bolstered its tall stocks with West Coast ruckman Scott Lycett and Hawks defender Ryan Burton and added Brisbane half-back Sam Mayes, but acceded to trade requests from Wingard (Hawthorn) and Polec (North Melbourne), and lost more outside run and creativity when Pittard was added to the deal with the Kangaroos.

In farewelling Wingard, Polec and Pittard, the Power was able to bring in three first-round picks, which they used on the opening night of the draft to address the significant hole left by those exits.

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Port brought in Rozee with its first pick, No.5 overall, gaining a classy midfielder/forward who, in time, with his athleticism, overhead strength and vision could prove a handy replacement for the prodigiously talented Wingard.

Similarly, midfielder Butters and defender Duursma appear to have the line-breaking speed and foot skills to help cover the holes left by Polec on the wing and Pittard across half-back.

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Port recruiting manager Geoff Parker said the club's main focus had been to improve its list in the forward half of the ground, with Rozee, Butters and Duursma all expected to have a significant impact in that area.

"Obviously Wingard, Polec and Pittard (had) that experience and class and the players we bring in aren't going to be at that level straight away, but the balance of the list we're very happy with, very comfortable with," Parker said.  

"Our back six, seven or eight players are pretty well set and at a good age, our midfield is still developing. 

"Our forward line is a little bit older, but we started to bring some players in to cover that, so we're comfortable with where we sit."

Port had a quieter day on Friday, when it did not have a selection until the fifth round, taking South Australian youngsters with its two picks.

At pick No.73, the Power selected Riley Grundy, the brother of Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy. The 194cm Sturt defender shapes as a project player, but has shown a fierce competitive spirit playing on the opposition's most dangerous key forwards at under-18 level in the SANFL.

With its final selection, No.76, Port took North Adelaide small forward Boyd Woodcock, a speedy goalsneak who starred in North Adelaide's run to this year's SANFL premiership.

"We went running players last night in the first round and wanted to bring in another tall somewhere, so we did that with Riley Grundy," Parker said.

"He's a local boy but he's competitive and he's learning the game and we wanted a developing one.

"With Woodcock, he's come through the system and played in a premiership with North Adelaide along with Connor Rozee, so we just think that he adds another mature body to our list.  

"We were comfortable we ticked all the boxes that Ken (Hinkley) and the list management team wanted."