THE pre-season draft traditionally provided a chance for experienced AFL players to find a new home.
In the new age of free agency that role will change.
Delisted players are no longer forced to enter the draft lottery to join a new club, instead they can quickly find an opportunity elsewhere through their own accord as a ‘delisted free agent.’
The majority of pre-season draft candidates this year will be overlooked national draft hopefuls.
But that does not mean its worth as a recruiting process is diminished and Port Adelaide has maintained one live pick for the 2012 edition.
The Power has used the pre-season draft to bring some valuable players to the club - many who have gone on to forge popular playing careers - who have made significant contributions to Port Adelaide …
Who was your favourite pre-season draft selection? Have your say with your fellow supporters below.
3. Jacob Surjan, 2004 Pre-Season Draft, Pick 10
Picked up as a youngster in the club’s premiership year, Surjan would establish himself as a core part of Port Adelaide defence over nine years at Alberton.
A tough backman, Surjan played five games in 2004 and, despite a bumpy ride in 2005, would go on to play a total of 121 games for the Power.
His love and passion for the club and its history was cultivated during time spent playing in the Port Adelaide SANFL side.
Earning a permanent place in the Power team in the latter part of the 2000s, Surjan’s never-say-die attitude and courageous one-percenters earned him a cult following.
Surjan struggled to find a place in the squad during 2011 and battled late-season injuries after a promising start to 2012.
After being delisted at the end of 2012, Surjan nonetheless served the club with a fearlessness appreciated by many in the stands and remains one of Port Adelaide’s best pre-season recruits.
Recruited from: South Fremantle (Pick 10, 2004 Pre-Season Draft)
Junior Clubs: Cockburn/South Coogee Juniors (WA)
PAFC debut: Rd 1, 2004 v Essendon
Games played: 121
2. Josh Mahoney, 2004 Pre-Season Draft, Pick 12
Josh Mahoney’s path to Port Adelaide was a rocky one. Originally selected by Collingwood and playing in 19 games over the 1997 and 1998 season, he then moved to the Western Bulldogs where he would play another 11 matches until the end of 2000.
Delisted at the end of that period - seemingly a death knell for his AFL career - Mahoney went back to the VFL with the Bendigo Bombers and made a name as a quality forward.
Picked up in the 2004 pre-season draft, he would debut against Melbourne in round four of that year and go on to establish himself in the first 22 after round eight.
Kicking fifteen goals up forward through the rest of the year, he would boot another five in the finals series including one in the club’s grand final win over Brisbane.
Not resting on his laurels, Mahoney would maintain a key role up forward over three more years at Alberton, retiring at the end of 2007.
Recruited from: Bendigo Bombers (Pick 12, 2004 Pre-Season Draft)
Junior Clubs: Western Jets (Vic)
PAFC debut: Rd 15, 2006 v Geelong
Games played: 104 (Port Adelaide 67, Western Bulldogs 11, Collingwood 19)
1. Stephen Paxman, 1997 Pre-Season Draft, Pick 1
A 100-game player with Port Adelaide, its first full back in the AFL and 1999 John Cahill Medallist, Stephen Paxman remains the club’s best pre-season draft pick to date.
Not just for his capability as a solid defender at a time when big full-forwards played the most significant role in the competition but for the leadership he provided to the young Power side in its earliest days.
He was the first player selected in the 1997 pre-season draft having already played 102 games at Fitzroy.
Missing the club’s premiership success after his delisting in 2003, Paxman nevertheless remains one of the club’s best ever AFL defenders.
His reward came when he clinched the club’s best and fairest in 1999 - the first year Port Adelaide played finals.
Retiring on 240 career games having played a significant role at two clubs, Paxman’s contribution to Port Adelaide is a significant one, and one that remains highly regarded throughout its supporter base.
Recruited from: Fitzroy (Pick 1, 1997 Pre-Season Draft)
Junior Clubs: East Doncaster
PAFC debut: Rd 1, 1997 v Collingwood
Games played: 240 (Port Adelaide 138, Fitzroy 102)