DAN HOUSTON is expecting to spend more time in Port Adelaide’s defence than midfield in 2021, and says the depth and versatility of the squad has the club well placed to attack the season.
Houston was a revelation when he was shifted into the midfield part-way through the 2019 season.
The move was enforced at the time with midfielder Tom Rockliff suffering an injury in Shanghai when limited players were available, and Houston deputised admirably.
He started 2020 with the midfield group, but when defender Ryan Burton got injured early in the year, the versatile Houston found his way into the backline again, where he stayed for the most part for the rest of the season.
And he says he expects to start in defence in 2021 with forwards Connor Rozee and Zak Butters to be included in the midfield rotation.
“I think I’ll mainly be a defender but in saying that I’ve still got that midfield role I can play if that needs to be played,” Houston told portadelaidefc.com.au.
“At this stage, it looks like I’ll predominately be down back.
“We’ve got plenty of versatility and the mids that will go through there this year like Connor and Zak have got a lot of flair and excitement about them so I’m really looking forward to what they can bring going through there.”
Houston averaged a respectable 17.2 touches through 17 games last season, rating him as above average for a medium defender.
The 23-year-old has become a mainstay of the Port Adelaide side, playing 77 games in four seasons and finishing third in the best and fairest in 2019.
Now comfortable at the level, Houston isn’t resting on his laurels, nor does he expect the rest of the side to after narrowly missing out on making the Grand Final.
“I always try and improve each season and build on what I did the last year,” he explained.
“I think I had a reasonably solid back end to last year so I’ll be trying to build from where I left off last year and take that into 2021 and see how it goes.
“Last year put a bit of fire in the stomach and we want to go a step further this year. That’s driving us, and you can tell.
“If you come down and watch training all the boys are up and about, trying to get better and as a team we’re looking to grow and improve on what we did last year.”
While most sides will improve through experience, Houston is expecting a new crop of young players to also enhance the group.
He says fellow defenders Lachie Jones and Miles Bergman and midfielder Jackson Mead will excite members and supporters.
“Lachie has been really good. He’s a naturally tough footballer who plays on the edge and he’s got a lot of offence in him as well,” Houston said.
“Meady has been training through the midfield and has got a bit of x-factor through there and Bergs has been really good as well.
“He’s still building to the AFL level but hopefully we can see him this year.”
Houston is expected to feature when Port Adelaide takes on the Crows in a practice game at Alberton Oval on Saturday.