PORT ADELAIDE spearhead Charlie Dixon is accustomed to dominating the forward line, finishing runner-up in the Coleman Medal race in 2020, but he expects a new teammate to make his job even easier in 2021.
The powerbrokers at Port negotiated a trade for livewire forward Orazio Fantasia during the offseason, bringing him to Alberton after 80 games and 111 goals with Essendon.
Fantasia’s reputation for blistering speed and tidy skills precede him and Dixon said he was looking forward to working with his new running mate, who had already impressed on the training track and put in a tidy two-goal performance in last weekend’s internal trial.
“I love having him in the team,” Dixon said on Melbourne radio.
“He kicks the ball really well and he’s fast and reads the game really well.
“He’s another one who can kick me a footy on a dime and that’s always going to be good for me.”
Dixon and his senior teammates returned to training after Christmas for the first time this year, given the delayed end to Port’s campaign and the season as a whole because of the COVID-19 break.
The players were not put through the usual gruelling running blocks, instead condensing it into about two weeks and incorporating running into drills to top up their load.
Dixon said players have been trusted to get their own conditioning away from the club and it is something the AFL should consider more widely.
“It’s a little bit different to what we’re used to. We’d usually have a month or six weeks of training pre-christmas but it came around pretty quickly,” he explained.
“It felt like we didn’t miss too much training. We still got a lot of load in and we’re still getting a lot of load in as well.
“It puts a lot more responsibility on the players to come back in better shape and make sure they do the training.
“I’d much prefer to do that than come back beforehand. It gives you time to do more of what you want to do and spend more time with family.”
Fortunately, for Dixon and his teammates the demanding conditioning of pre-season is swiftly coming to a close, with competitive games just around the corner.
Port Adelaide’s playing group got through the club’s internal trial unscathed, with Dixon featuring prominently with three goals and Connor Rozee starring with a half dozen of his own.
Next on the cards is a practice match at a yet to be determined time against the Crows, before the club’s only match of the AAMI Community Series against West Coast in Leederville on March 7.