PORT ADELAIDE midfield coach Brett Montgomery is refusing to put a ceiling on some of the club’s young midfield talent like Miles Bergman and Jackson Mead.
Montgomery has taken charge of the midfield group this season and is excited by the depth on the club’s list.
Along with bona fide stars of the competition Ollie Wines, Travis Boak and Robbie Gray, 2021 saw the emergence of Willem Drew and Karl Amon in the centre.
But Montgomery says there are a host of others pushing for a spot in the middle.
“Apart from those obvious guys that everyone loves to talk about, me included, in Xavier (Duursma), Connor (Rozee) and Buttsy (Zak Butters), there’s some young talent that hasn’t had the looks that perhaps they’ve deserved in Miles Bergman, Jackson Mead for sure, Jed McEntee is another one that might get some time as well and then some newer players as well that we got into the club like Josh Sinn,” Montgomery said during a press conference on Wednesday.
“It’s really exciting with the stocks. We’ve got to make sure they’re ready. We don’t want to displace any of the older players who have got all the runs on the board just for the sake of it but we think there is some merit in improving and in growing that group and making sure we can spread some load.
“We know we’ve got some good young talent here that’s ready to take another step and the natural progression for those younger guys is more midfield time so I’m here to try facilitate that, make sure they have some excitement and some reliability around the three phases – whether it be stoppage, whether they’re really responsible in defence or whether they’ve got some real potency when we attack.
“I think what we’re trying to do is strengthen around our midfield group, whether it be with new talent, through more numbers or just some greater detail. They’ve been a good group for many many years and hopefully I’m just here to push them to another level.”
Another player Montgomery has had his eye on is Lachie Jones.
The powerfully-built mullet-haired academy product showed glimpses of his potential playing off half back in his debut season last year and the midfield coach believes he could eventually be part of the midfield rotation.
“I don’t see why not,” Montgomery said. “I think someone like Lachy and even those guys we mentioned before like Jackson Mead and Miles Bergman, there shouldn’t be any limitations on what these guys can do.
“They come in with some prior learning and some prior experiences in a position because they’ve been a good player for a long time as a kid but they’re just traits when they get here that can be applied to any area so if I talk Lachy specifically, I’ve got no doubt that with some experience, some education and some exposure, I think Lachy Jones could make it in any area.
“I’ve got a keen eye on him for the midfield. I think he’ll get his first start as a defender just because that’s probably a bit fairer on him but like I said about those other young guys; why put a ceiling on these guys who have got exceptional talent?”
While Jones and co will no doubt be pushing their claims, they’ll have some work to get past Brownlow Medallist Ollie Wines and three-time All-Australian Travis Boak.
The former captain in particular has shown no signs of slowing down despite being the second oldest player on the club’s list.
Montgomery said Boak still drove training standards and he expected the 300-gamer to power towards his 34th birthday.
“Travis is committed to making sure that… he’ll leave an amazing legacy because he’ll make sure that the guys are good enough, are hungry enough to take his spot. They’ll be ready and deserving of it,” Montgomery said.
“He’s got a passionate investment in growing those guys so I’m really excited about Travis’ year to be honest.
“I don’t see anyone going past him. I have seen no reason to suggest that, but the challenge is out there to those guys mentioned to take it off him.”
Port Adelaide is near full-strength at training with nearly the entire squad available.
Montgomery said Orazio Fantasia and Trent Dumont continued to have their loads managed and Bergman (shoulder) and Hugh Jackson (hip) were each continuing their rehabilitation following surgery.
He said it would be exciting to have Kane Farrell joining in on some drills in the next fortnight as the forward/wingman ramps up his return from a ruptured ACL.