PORT ADELAIDE scored "a significant win" by advancing to pick No.12 in next month's AFL national draft - and it is backing the talent already at Alberton to advance its player squad.
Port Adelaide football chief Chris Davies assessed the AFL trade period as delivering gains, including cutting the spend on the salary cap, to be strongly placed for player signings and retention next year.
"We are pleased to have improved our draft position," said Davies of jumping four spots in the national draft to continue a strategy in place at Port Adelaide for the past three years. "We have ended in a good spot. And we are very clear on the way we are going to get better.
"We move on now to the draft and we have a good opportunity to continue to improve our player list."
Port Adelaide closed the trade period on Thursday night with this snapshot -
IN: Jeremy Finlayson from Greater Western Sydney to become an answer to the much-needed support of key forward Charlie Dixon. The 25-year-old - who was the 69th call in the 2014 AFL national draft - played 66 league games at Greater Western Sydney and had a career-best 44 goals in the Giants' run to the 2019 AFL grand final.
"There are not too many times when a guy who has kicked 40 goals plus in an AFL season becomes available for a future third-round selection," Davies said. "Jeremy clearly has talent. Our challenge is to get that out of him - he is a forward who can second ruck."
OUT: Peter Ladhams to Sydney where he will continue as a ruckman-forward before succeeding Tom Hickey as lead ruckman. The 23-year-old leaves Alberton after 32 AFL matches after being rookie listed in 2016.
This opens a path for Port Adelaide SANFL A. R. McLean Medallist Sam Hayes to advance to the AFL as a ruckman.
"Sam needs to be given an opportunity to be a good ruckman," Davies said. "Sam has done everything we have asked of him in the SANFL and now is the time to give him that opportunity in the AFL.
"For us, it was a win-win situation (by releasing Ladhams) with Jeremy Finlayson wanting to come to South Australia. The bedrock of any deal with Sydney was getting a significant win for our recruiting guys in the draft."
DRAFT: Advanced first pick from 16 to 12. Port Adelaide has picks No. 12, 63, 73, 74 and 92 for the AFL national draft on November 24 and 25.
Staying at Alberton is Sam Powell-Pepper, after exploring options to play more midfield minutes elsewhere. But he will return to pre-season training with heavy demands from the Port Adelaide coaching staff.
"Sam played some significant football in his first two years," Davies said of the West Australian. "But he has had some troubles in his off-seasons in the past couple of years that right now he needs to fix that if he wants to become a midfielder.
"That is the conversation we had with Sam and his manager through this trade period. Sam has some things he needs to do better. You will all get to see if Sam has a proper commitment to play at AFL level by what he does through this pre-season.
"That is Sam's challenge. If he really wants to play in the midfield - and we have a need for that type of player - that is up to him and we will see how committed Sam is by the way he comes back for the pre-season. He needs to come back in a fitter state than what he has previously. If he does that, he has every chance to play in our midfield."
List-management decisions will continue leading up to the October 31 turnover date on the AFL calendar.
Port Adelaide has five players has out of contract - experienced forward-midfielder Steven Motlop, the versatile Sam Mayes, defender Jarrod Lienert, forward Boyd Woodcock and rookie Trent Burgoyne.
Motlop is expected to sign a new contract this month.
"We spoke to all those guys about hanging in with us during the trade period," Davies said. "We have made the changes to our list with the retirements (of Tom Rockliff and Tyson Goldsack and delisting of Hamish Hartlett and Joel Garner). We have made enough changes to be in line with AFL rules.
"And we will be under no financial pressure because during this trade period we have reduced our total player payment spend with some of the changes we have made. We are in a good position."
Port Adelaide list manager Jason Cripps declared on Adelaide radio on Thursday morning he had no discussions with Hawthorn on players - in particular midfielders Tom Mitchell and Jaegar O'Meara and former Port Adelaide midfielder-forward Chad Wingard - but had spoken of draft pick swaps with Hawthorn. While player trading has closed, draft picks remain in play for the next month and even during the draft.
"We did not have one conversation with Hawthorn about any of their players," Davies said. "You might think that something shiny and new outside (the club) is fantastic .. or you can see you have the answers to your questions already at the club.
"We are absolutely backing in (our players to improve)."
Cripps also warned against over-reactions to Port Adelaide's midfield needs based on the preliminary final loss to the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval. He noted the same midfield - with Brownlow Medallist Ollie Wines and former captain Travis Boak mentoring Willem Drew, Karl Amon, Xavier Duursma, Connor Rozee, Zak Butters and Miles Bergman - had beaten the Western Bulldogs in Melbourne in the home-and-away season closer.
"We said from the moment the preliminary final ended we needed to work out the way we would get better," Davies said. "We do have players who are of high talent who have not had the greatest number of opportunities to play (in the midfield). Right now, we think there is significant improvement (from players) who have been early picks, a father-son selection or now the potential pick 12 this year.
"We have guys who just need exposure. We need to put extra work into players we think can take us into the future. We have a pretty good record lately of developing players.
"We want to see Butters, Rozee and Duursma and Miles Bergman get more opportunity after playing midfield in their junior years. We need to give those guys more opportunity."