MATTHEW LOKAN says the addition of some experience and the return from long-term injuries of some exciting young talent will bolster Port Adelaide’s SANFL side in 2022.
The club has signed former AFL forward John Butcher and ex-Norwood and Adelaide forward Anthony Wilson among a host of new recruits.
It has also been able to retain 16 players from its SANFL contracted list in 2021 and Lokan says there is a good mix of youth and experience.
“One real strength of our program is that our guys want to be involved and then want to stay involved,” SANFL coach Lokan said.
“The bulk of the squad from last year have stayed involved and it’s a credit to the guys, they’ve come back in really good shape and we’ve been able to hit the track running in the first couple of weeks of training.
“We feel like our squad is taking shape and we’re looking forward to getting into some games in the new year.”
Players returned to Alberton for pre-season training three weeks ago with Oliver Cheesman and Ethan Moore among the standouts before the group wrapped up for the Christmas break.
As well as six new faces in the group, Lokan is looking forward to the return from long-term injuries of Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy product Aryan Sareen and former Hawthorn forward Luke Surman.
“Aryan Sareen missed a full year with a knee reconstruction and he’s flying on the track and Luke Surman is fit again and training the house down,” Lokan said.
“We’ve also brought over Jackson Lee and Nick Moore from Woodville-West Torrens who are quality players in their own right along with Brayden Kirk.
“Mac Nield and Aiden Turner have come to us who are perhaps a bit younger and developing in their craft and their game so we feel like we’ve got a real balanced squad.”
Port narrowly missed finals in 2021 after injuries in both the AFL and SANFL took their toll.
Butcher came in as a late-season injury replacement signing, playing just one game.
Lokan expected his return along with the addition of Wilson to provide valuable leadership to a young group.
“We’re really lucky to have Anthony come across to us this year after having a year at Payneham in the amateur league,” he said.
“His experience and what he can pass on to our younger guys will be really valuable and he’ll be a fantastic addition to our group.
“John is fantastic just to have on the track even and Jace Bode has come on board and is going to help with our training during the week.
“We feel like Tom Corcoran, Matt Appleton, Sean Samblich and of course Cam Sutcliffe have done a brilliant job leading our guys in the last few years but to add players like John and Anthony will be really important for our group.”