PORT ADELAIDE SANFL coach Matthew Lokan has praised the experienced AFL players who played an important role in helping develop the younger Port players this season.
Throughout the year, a number of established Power players spent some time in the Magpies line-up, and Lokan says the leadership those players showed was invaluable.
“I was really fortunate to have Ollie Wines, Tom Rockliff, Justin Westhoff, Brad Ebert, Charlie Dixon just to name a few playing in the SANFL,” Lokan said to a packed house at Port’s Best and Fairest count at the Convention Centre.
“It was great of those guys to come back and lead our young guys. We were really fortunate this year to have some senior guys on our list to come back and play SANFL football.
“They were a fantastic guidance for our younger guys.”
Lokan said the whole football club was invested in the Magpies’ finals campaign, and the coach was proud of the core SANFL group.
“I certainly did, and we built that up - we didn’t shy away from that,” he said.
“We acknowledge that we are a good team. In the back half of the year we played some fantastic football, and we started to get some continuity with our players.
“From a coaching point of view, we didn’t leave it to the AFL guys coming back, it was the guys who have been with us all year.
“We had a lost of guys play some fantastic seasons, play some really consistent football, and they put it all together in the back half of the year.
While Lokan admitted it was disappointing to lose the grand final to Glenelg, he was thrilled with the growth within the group from the previous year.
“It was extremely disappointing to lose,” he said.
“We know what our program is. We play in the SANFL to win premierships. Although we are also there to develop our younger guys, we are there to win.
“To fall short at the end was extremely disappointing, but I suppose when I evaluate the season, I probably look further than that.
“To win four and a half games last season - to then play in a grand final this year, and to see some of the growth of our younger guys was great.”
The former Collingwood player said the everyone was looking forward to celebrating the club as it moves into its milestone year.
“If we continue to see that growth then I think we are doing our job with development,” Lokan said.
“It’s such a huge year for our football club. It’s the 150th year, and we want to win two premierships.
“We are extremely excited for next year.”