FORMER Port Adelaide defender Hamish Hartlett has listed ruckman Sam Hayes and powerful defender Lachie Jones among five players at the club set to flourish in 2022.

Hartlett was hosting SEN SA’s breakfast show on Wednesday when he compiled his list of players to watch at the club.

Hayes won the club’s 2021 SANFL best and fairest award after an impressively consistent season in which he was the only player to poll votes in every game.

The 22-year-old averaged 14.2 disposals per game to go with 5 marks. He led the SANFL competition for hit-outs with 620 in his 18 games and with the departure of Peter Ladhams to Sydney, is likely to see more opportunity to make his AFL debut.

Jones showed glimpses of his talent in his debut year after playing his first AFL game in the Round 4 win over Richmond.

The 19-year-old is strongly built and possesses speed, aerobic capacity and an explosiveness that will make him an exciting prospect for onlookers.

As well as Hayes and Jones, Riley Bonner was on Hartlett’s list, with the former club vice-captain likening Bonner to Karl Amon who has flourished in recent years after finding it tough to cement a spot at AFL level in his early years.

See who else made Hartlett’s list and what he had to say about each of them below.

5) Riley Bonner

“He’s often been the whipping boy in recent years – whether that’s warranted or not. I know he’s super fit and from what I’ve seen over the last two off-seasons, he’s been running with guys like Tommy Jonas and Tommy Clurey. One of his best mates from Essendon comes over, Will Snelling, and he is a freak runner, and Bonns has been working his a*** off with Snells from running with him to improve his fitness and help him going into the last season or two. Last season he trained as a winger or high half-forward. He tore his hamstring pretty badly in round 1 and missed a good portion of the season and then came back and took a while to find his feet again. He’s been there six or seven years now and I feel like Bonns is in that place where he knows himself, he’s got some fantastic mates and is really confident and comfortable within the playing group. In the Preliminary Final, he was best on ground for Port Adelaide by a long way and I just feel like he’ll gain a lot of confidence out of that performance, and I hope he does. He had 31 or 32 disposals, took the game on by foot, was dodging and weaving around guys. I guess the knock on him has been is he hard enough, but in that game I reckon he showed he was. It’s something he’s been working on for a long time – the contested side of his game and sticking his nose over it when he should. Kenny pushes him on that but I think in that game he did that. I think it’s going to propel him going forward.

Riley Bonner was easily Port Adelaide's best in last year's preliminary final clash with the Bulldogs.

4) Zak Butters

His talent is undeniable and I think everyone is aware of that. Last year, his season was decimated by a really significant knee injury – one that affected the nerve in the side of his leg and led to what they call ‘drop foot’ so he had no control over his right foot. Multiple operations to try and fix that. His attitude is going to make him one of the elite players in the competition. He is one of these guys who just works his backside off all the time, he’s always doing extras after every single session and it could be simple stuff like having running shots from 20-30 metres out but he’s always doing stuff to make himself better. He trains and plays at the right intensity, which we’ve all seen. He’s crazily hard at it for how small he is. He’s kamikaze. That’ll be the only question mark whether he can get a clean run with his body but he’s going to take his game to another level. I think he’ll spend more time in the midfield as opposed to playing forward and expect some big things from him.

3) Mitch Georgiades

The glimpses of magic this guy produces from time to time… he clearly can be an absolute star. It’s all going to come down to the continuity he can get. He’s had some soft tissue injuries that have just hampered his progress in his first two years of his career. His athletic prowess is almost unparalleled. He’s a guy that can run up and down the ground all day and not many people know about that. His aerobic capacity is outstanding. He’s tall enough where he’s got that ability to take big grabs but also do some work on the ground as well. If he’s playing on a smaller opponent, he can take him high up the ground, take him to half-back and then charge back to goal. He’s got speed, explosive power, we’ve seen his aerial attributes as well in terms of how high he can jump and how good his hands can be at times so he’s got everything he needs to be a very good player. His goal kicking and set shot routine is outstanding. He rarely misses.

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Mitch Georgiades - Rising Star highlights | PTV

Mitch Georgiades finished third in the 2021 NAB AFL Rising Star.

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2) Sam Hayes

He’s a big fella – one of my favourites down there at Alberton. Big Purple Hayes is just a natural old-school ruckman. He’s huge for starters, which is always handy. He’s 202cm but his length and reach is even bigger than that. He gets around the ground well at SANFL level, he takes marks. There were multiple games where he has found 20+ disposals. He has been a dominant ruckman in that competition and there have been questions around why he hasn’t been able to get to that next level. I guess one of the answers is that Scotty Lycett is standing in his way and Scotty has been a super ruckman for the club since coming over from West Coast a few years ago and very durable. Hayesy a few years ago suffered an ACL which would have hampered his development but the biggest question mark internally has been on his running capacity and his ability to run out a full game at AFL level. Hopefully he gets that opportunity to test himself out against genuine AFL quality ruckman in the pre-season games and see where he stacks up in being able to run out a full game and have the impact he’s been able to have at SANFL level.

 1) Lachie Jones

In the three or four games he’s played he’s shown he’s more than capable of playing at the level. His body let him down a lot but he’s tough, he’s uncompromising, and he plays in the true Port Adelaide fashion. The flying mullet. Another man, similar to Mitch Georgiades who just possesses so much athletic ability, it’s almost unfair. Super powerful, can run like the win, he’s got amazing closing speed, which we’ve seen at AFL level already but also overlooked a bit is his aerobic capacity. He can match it with just about anybody on the running track. He’s got a tough look about him and a tough approach to his game that I know Kenny really loves, particularly playing across half back. He’s got line-breaking capability with his kick. He can roost the ball a very very long away and it’s just a question if his body can hold up at the level. Hopefully another pre-season under his belt will allow him to create more sustainability within his body and to be able to get out there from week-to-week at AFL level.