AFL 2022: Latest Port Adelaide news leading into round 7

Todd Marshall was so out of form early in the season he was sent to defence. After two five-goal bags he reveals what was holding him back, and who to thank for his resurgence.

Advice from Port Adelaide star Travis Boak and coach Ken Hinkley has helped forward Todd Marshall produce two career-best performances.

Four weeks ago, Marshall was shifted to defence in the last quarter of the home loss against Hawthorn after struggling to influence the game, registering four disposals and no goals.

His form prompted lengthy chats during the next week with ex-captain Boak and Hinkley, who told him to stop putting so much pressure on himself and to enjoy his football.

Marshall has responded with two five-goal hauls – in the Showdown in Round 3 and the 84-point breakthrough victory over West Coast on Saturday.

He pointed to the sky after an early major against the Eagles in a tribute to his late father, Robert, on the fourth anniversary of his passing.

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Boak, whose dad Roger died from stomach cancer in 2005, has become a mentor to Marshall.

Hinkley has been a staunch defender when external criticism has been directed at the 23-year-old.

“I had some good conversations during the week (after playing the Hawks) with Ken and with Travis Boak as well, who’s been really good for me just in a mentor sense,” said Marshall, who twice went out for lunch with his veteran teammate leading up to the Crows game.

“I was probably putting a bit too much pressure on myself to make sure every kick was perfect or had to win every contest.

“The chats I had were to narrow my focus and bring it back to just competing as a tall forward and stuff comes off that.

“I wasn’t playing my best football, so the confidence in them backing me helps a lot and hopefully for the rest of the season I can keep delivering.”

Todd Marshall celebrates one of his five goals against West Coast. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Todd Marshall celebrates one of his five goals against West Coast. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Marshall had copped plenty of knocks from outside the club but the 2016 No.16 draft pick said he was grounded and knew how to handle it because it was not new.

The spotlight has focused more on Marshall and fellow tall forwards Mitch Georgiades and Jeremy Finlayson with spearhead Charlie Dixon sidelined this season with an ankle injury.

“It’s a professional sport and if you’re not performing, you’re going to be under a bit of scrutiny,” he said.

“My start of the year wasn’t where it (needed to be) and I’d be the first to admit that.

“My season’s still a bit a little bit up and down with form ... but I think I’ve been able to compete a lot better this year and I’ve got a lot more confidence in my body to take the No.1 defender.”

Todd Marshall on the training track this week. Picture: Tom Huntley
Todd Marshall on the training track this week. Picture: Tom Huntley

Marshall said Hinkley gave him belief that a lot of what he did well would not show up in statistics.

“It’s just about my competitiveness, how I go around the ground, my defence and my tackles and I think the last two or three weeks I’ve been a lot better in that,” he said.

“I try to help the defence as much as I can with our running patterns, people may not notice that ... but internally I’m being recognised for that.”

Marshall said the team’s post-match review of its three-point loss to Carlton – when it trailed by as many as 50 – was the longest in his time at the club.

He said it was nice for the team to finally win on Saturday and it was looking forward to facing St Kilda in Cairns this weekend.

When will Dixon return to footy field?

Port Adelaide now has a timeline for the return of star forward Charlie Dixon, while Orazio Fantasia will join in on training drills this week.

The Power have been without Dixon so far in 2022 after he first hurt his ankle in pre-season and then had a setback and required more surgery with a return to action in sight in the early stages of the season.

Port had yet to put a time frame on when the spearhead would return but after the Power finally claimed their first win of the season over West Coast on Saturday Dixon is now listed as four to five weeks away.

The Power, who have struggled without Dixon as the spearhead of their forward line, have said that his running has progressed well and he is now targeting game time before Port’s Round 12 bye.

Fantasia, who also hasn’t played this season after pre-season surgery of his own, will join in on some training drills on Tuesday and is listed as four to six weeks away.

The Power finally have a timeline on Charlie Dixon’s return. Picture: Mark Brake
The Power finally have a timeline on Charlie Dixon’s return. Picture: Mark Brake

Scott Lycett is out for 12 weeks after he had surgery on his shoulder last week, while Trent McKenzie is out for six to eight weeks after knee surgery.

The Power should have Aliir Aliir and Robbie Gray available for the clash against the high-flying St Kilda in Cairns with the knocks the two stars suffered against the Eagles considered to be minor.

Aliir rolled the ankle he suffered a syndesmosis injury in against Brisbane in Round 1 while Gray was substituted out of the game with knee jarring.

Young gun Xavier Duursma impressed in his first game following a fortnight out with injury, but the Power now have a decision to make as to whether he makes a quick return to Port Adelaide’s AFL side.

Duursma has had to deal with neck and shoulder bruising this season, meaning he has been on the sidelines for the past two weeks.

He hurt his shoulder in Round 1 against Brisbane but was able to play in Round 2.

Orazio Fantasia will hit the training track this week. Picture: NCA NewsWire
Orazio Fantasia will hit the training track this week. Picture: NCA NewsWire

The 21-year-old was dropped for Round 3 and in the SANFL Showdown he suffered his latest neck and shoulder bruising.

The 18th pick of the 2018 Draft only had 11 disposals against the Crows at state league level but returned to more of the form he showed in his first three years at AFL level against Sturt on Sunday.

Duursma finished with 27 disposals, six clearances, five tackles and a goal against Sturt, mainly playing on a wing.

But importantly for the Power he got through the game injury free, despite being in some discomfort when he copped an elbow to the throat in the second quarter.

Port SANFL coach Matthew Lokan said he was pleased with Duursma’s performance.

“I thought (Xavier) did some good things on his return from injury,” Lokan said.

“He is a class player and that’s the type of game we expect to see from him.”

No.12 draft pick Josh Sinn is also out with groin soreness.

Duursma gives Port selection headache

Young gun Xavier Duursma impressed in his first game following a fortnight out with injury to put up his hand for a quick return to Port Adelaide’s AFL side.

Duursma has had to deal with neck and shoulder bruising this season, putting him on the sidelines for the past two weeks.

He hurt his shoulder in round 1 against Brisbane but was able to play in round 2.

The 21-year-old was dropped for round 3 and in the SANFL Showdown he suffered his latest neck and shoulder bruising.

The 18th pick of the 2018 draft had only 11 disposals against the Crows at state league level but returned to more of the form he showed in his first three years at AFL level on Sunday.

Duursma finished with 27 disposals, six clearances, five tackles and a goal against Sturt, mainly playing on a wing.

Xavier Duursma is pushing for an AFL return. Picture: Mark Brake
Xavier Duursma is pushing for an AFL return. Picture: Mark Brake

And, importantly for the Power, he got through the game injury free, despite being in some discomfort when he copped an elbow to the throat in the second quarter.

Port SANFL coach Matthew Lokan said he was pleased with Duursma’s performance.

“I thought (Xavier) did some good things on his return from injury,” Lokan said.

“He is a class player and that’s the type of game we expect to see from him.”

The Power will now have a decision to make as to whether Duursma continues in the SANFL this week or returns to the AFL side.

After claiming their first win of the season, over West Coast, the Power travel to Cairns to take on St Kilda.

The Magpies take on Glenelg on Sunday.

Scott Lycett had surgery on his shoulder last week, and along with Charlie Dixon (return date unknown), Orazio Fantasia (five to seven weeks) and Trent McKenzie (return date unknown) is in the Power’s casualty ward.

No.12 draft pick Josh Sinn is also out with groin soreness.

Port wins from Gray area in sub rule

Aliir Aliir and Robbie Gray are expected to take on St Kilda on Saturday night despite suffering injuries in Port Adelaide’s first win of the season against West Coast.

Gray was substituted out of the game in the third quarter of the Power’s 84-point win on Saturday after he copped a knock to his right knee.

No scans have been booked in for Gray on Sunday and the Power are confident he will take on St Kilda in Cairns, despite it being the second knee knock for him this season.

“Rob has just given his knee another tweak again, nothing too bad, I don’t think,” Power coach Ken Hinkley said.

“He wasn’t feeling quite right at halftime and we asked him to hang in (during) the third quarter knowing if you get an injury early in the second half you don’t want to use your sub up too early, and Rob was feeling like he could do enough but we also knew he had some restrictions.”

Robbie Gray chats with Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Robbie Gray chats with Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images

The AFL introduced the sub rule last year on the basis a player subbed out had to be a strong chance to miss the following week.

But Hinkley made clear Gray was likely to take on St Kilda despite being subbed off when his medial ligament injury flared up.

The AFL has not clarified the rules around subbing off players despite Geelong football boss Simon Lloyd admitting last month the Cats were happy to use the sub rule if a player could not get through that game.

Aliir hurt the same ankle that he suffered a syndesmosis injury to in Round 1, only returning last week against Carlton.

But the All-Australian defender’s latest ankle injury is considered extremely minor and, like Gray, he is set to play against the Saints.

“He gave his ankle a little tweak,” Hinkley said.

“It’s the same ankle but a little roll. One of those that you do regularly.”

Ollie Wines got through his first game since being diagnosed with a heart irregularity following Port Adelaide’s round 4 loss to Melbourne.

Hinkley said Wines would have been nervous coming into the match.

“He said at about quarter-time that everything was all right and away he went,” Hinkley said.

Aliir Aliir hurt his ankle again against the Eagles. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Aliir Aliir hurt his ankle again against the Eagles. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Miles Bergman was a late withdrawal from the side after coming down with the flu, which followed on from Zak Butters being sick earlier in the week.

That opened the door for Karl Amon to make a quick return to the side after he was omitted when teams were released on Thursday evening.

Amon is a free agent at the end of this season and Hinkley said he was “valuable” for the Power.

“Karl’s form, he wasn’t playing terrible, but there were parts of his whole game that we asked him to work on,” Hinkley said.

“I rang him at 9am when we heard about Miles, he came in and stepped back up.

“He’s a quality player, that’s why everyone has talked about it because he is a good player.

“But we have a responsibility to help our players get back into form and you have to use all your arsenal and one of those things is selection.”

Originally published as AFL 2022: Latest Port Adelaide news leading into round 7