Port Adelaide star Chad Wingard looks set to breakout as a potential midfield player in 2017.
Already one of the most damaging opportunist forwards in the game, Wingard will be given an opportunity to excel his game in the middle of the field this season, showing potential in Port Adelaide’s trial game.
It comes with Power coach Ken Hinkley being under the pump this year, with speculation his job is not certain beyond 2017.
Wingard is a dual All-Australian as a small forward, but after 107 games and 186 goals, it looks likely he will now be the mastermind behind his team’s attacks, as opposed to finishing off the job.
Assistant coach Matthew Nicks believes Wingard still has plenty to learn, and it’s the right time for him to establish himself as a midfielder given his natural footballing ability.
“Chad is the sort of guy who will make a mistake and not do it again,” Nicks said.
“He will learn from every moment.”
Starting the practice game in the centre, Wingard made his presence known and looked far from out of place, accumulating plenty of the ball as the game progressed.
“He had a fair bit of Footy and it is a different game in the midfield,” Nicks added.
“Wingard’s take to the midfield is a real positive. He did not die off as the game went on. He is an explosive player – and he will play an important role for us in there.
“We want that depth in our midfield. Our younger midfielder’s did perform well, so that is more encouraging when you do need that depth in a long AFL season – and you need midfielders to play multiple roles, from inside to wing to half-forward.”
Wingard’s position change shouldn’t hurt in the contrary, with Patrick Ryder returning to the side this season after his 12-month doping suspension, the Power’s forward line still looks promising when you add Charlie Dixon and Jack Trengove to the mix.
It’s a move that will need to pay off, given the club’s high expectations for the 2017 season. Club President David Koch laid out the law for his club this year, telling Adelaide radio that a finals berth is non-negotiable.
“The expectation is at least finals. That is the same as every year,” He said.
“Last year we failed and the year before we failed. Two years of failure in a row – there can’t be a third.”
Port have finished ninth and tenth in the last two years, following a preliminary final loss to eventual premier Hawthorn in 2014.
The task of making the finals is always a difficult one, and with a host of teams vying for a position in this year’s finals campaign, along with Port’s horror fixture to kick things off, to everyone outside the club it isn’t looking likely.
The Power are facing Sydney, Adelaide and GWS in the first month of the home-and-away season, and will kick things off against St Kilda on Thursday night in week two of the JLT Community Series.