A North Adelaide premiership player and two young midfielders joined Port Adelaide tonight after the first round of the 2018 NAB AFL Draft in Melbourne.

The Power selected versatile midfielder Connor Rozee with its first pick at number 5, Vic Metro midfielder Zak Butters with its second pick at number 12 and Vic Country midfielder Xavier Duursma with its final pick at number 18.

Port Adelaide champion Gavin Wanganeen was on hand to present each player with their first Power guernsey on stage at Marvel Stadium.

National Recruiting Manager Geoff Parker says the club is delighted with tonight’s result.

“A couple of years ago we identified this draft pool of players as being very talented and our list management strategy was to maximise our picks in the first round,” Parker said.

“For the first time since 2009 we had three picks inside the first round and we are very pleased to welcome Connor, Zak and Xavier to our club. We are confident all three players will be very important contributors for our club for many years to come.”

Rozee showed class and poise beyond his years while representing North Adelaide at senior level this season. He finished the year strongly as a defender in the Roosters’ premiership winning team.

“We made it clear that we didn’t move up the draft order just to secure a local South Australian, but that a player of Connor’s class was still available at pick 5 made it a very easy decision for us. The fact that he is a local South Australian is just a bonus,” said Parker.

“Connor has been on our radar for a while, having won the medal at the national Under-16 championships a couple of years ago.

“He is a very good mark for his size, uses the ball well and is very versatile demonstrating an ability to play both forward or back, or in the midfield.”

Rozee’s premiership winning North Adelaide coach Josh Carr echoed Parker’s sentiments.

“Connor’s got a number of strengths that will ensure he develops into an outstanding player. He’s versatile, has speed, is very skilful and a great mark overhead,” said Carr.

“And equally from a character perspective Connor has been the ultimate team man this year. He’s just a really down-to-earth country kid who is very respectful and a great team contributor. Character-wise, he is top shelf.”

With pick 12, Port Adelaide selected Butters from the Western Jets.

Butters is fast and creative and will most likely start as a small forward option before he progresses into a midfield role.

Despite an injury setback this season, Parker saw enough to convince him that Butters would add great value to Port Adelaide moving forward.

“Zak injured his shoulder midway through the season but we are confident he will bounce back strongly from that and add some real pace and class to our list,” Parker said.

“He’s tough but also a very smart player and makes good decisions going inside the forward 50.”

With it’s final first round pick, Port Adelaide selected Duursma from the Gippsland Power.

Duursma enjoyed a consistent season for the Gippsland Power and Vic Country, roaming through the midfield and across half-back.

Parker says speed and endurance are key elements to Duursma’s game.

“Xavier has impressed with his ability to run and carry the ball. He’s played a lot across half-back this year and is a very good intercept mark who uses the ball well,” Parker said.

Duursma is the nephew of former Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne defender Jamie Duursma who played 59 VFL games in the 1980s.

The NAB AFL Draft continues in Melbourne tomorrow from midday AEST, followed by the AFL Rookie Draft.

Port Adelaide 2018 first round AFL NAB Draftees:

Pick 5


POS: Half-forward/midfielder
Ht 185cm, Wt 74kg, DOB 22/1/00
From North Adelaide/South Australia

Pick 12


POS: Midfielder
Ht 181cm, Wt 70kg, DOB 8/9/00
From Western Jets/Vic Metro

Pick 18


POS: Midfielder
Ht 185cm, Wt 71kg, DOB 7/7/00
From Gippsland Power/Vic Country

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