PORT ADELAIDE Assistant Coach Nathan Bassett says forward Todd Marshall will be a big loss to the side after the 21-year-old was ruled out with injury for six weeks.
Marshall broke his right thumb while smothering a ball in the third quarter of the 29-point loss on Saturday night and had surgery on Sunday.
The 198 centimetre forward has booted nine goals this season so far and Bassett said while his absence would be a big loss, it presented an opportunity for someone else.
“It is (a big loss),” Bassett said during a press conference on Monday.
“He’s been great for us but someone else will have to come in and do his job.”
Among the takeaways from the game on Saturday, Bassett said the coaches had identified bland ball movement and poor contest work as the keys to the result.
“There were probably two key themes. Our offensive ball movement was a tad bland and our contest, we weren’t nearly tough enough,” he said.
“Our midfield didn’t have their best day so we’d be looking for an adjustment, more around what we do more than necessarily personnel but we’ll see later in the week what that looks like.
“We all have bad days and we’d prefer not to have ones like Saturday. We’ve got some good people in there who have been doing a good job for us so we’ll be looking for an adjustment this week.”
The forwards coach explained that ruckman Peter Ladhams had given the side a new dimension with his ball-winning ability and would face another challenge when he comes up against Melbourne captain Max Gawn on Thursday night.
He said he expected defender Trent McKenzie to push for a return after being a late withdrawal with back spasms, and Tom Rockliff was pushing for a recall after a strong showing in a trial game against Adelaide on Saturday.
“We’re getting a different look in the ruck through Pete (Ladhams). He’s playing his seventh game of footy, he’s competing well and finding the ball around the ground,” Bassett explained.
“Clearly this week is a massive ruck contest when you’re playing against Max Gawn. There’s probably five or six big people out there in the AFL at the moment so it’s a real challenge.
“Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall gave St Kilda a great look with their hitouts but we’ve got to be better at working from a negative start in the ruck, on the ground and Rocky is super reliable with what he does and how he plays so he’ll be in conversations this week.
“He was good on Saturday, he found heaps of the ball. Our mids had a good day – Willem Drew was first game after 16 weeks, he was terrific and Joey Atley was terrific as well so we saw some good things from our midfielders on Saturday and that at least is a good solid training session for them, we can see that they’ve got some form, and opportunities will come up at this time of the year where we lose a player for up to six weeks, that could be nine games.
“It’s going to be presenting opportunities for other guys to come in and play.”
With four games in 16 days, starting on Thursday night at the Gabba, Bassett said it would be a light training block this week where the side was effectively squeezing three days of work into two.
And he said while that would present other challenges including whether players needed a rest, the club was confident it could rebound and retain its spot at the top of the ladder.
“We’re going through a period of time where we haven’t been through it before. Shorter games, shorter turnarounds, how people pull up, we’ll play it really as we go,” Bassett said.
“We’re positive about what we’re doing. We’ve had a good season so far and we’re sitting top of the ladder at the moment, we’ve won six out of eight games.
“Probably the last four weeks we’re not quite where we want to be as a footy team but we think we can make some adjustments that can improve us and hopefully that will ensure that we’re somewhere near the front of the ladder for the rest of the year.”