It’s been a difficult five years for Port Adelaide’s Aaron Young since being drafted, but the powerful midfielder looks to have finally grown into the sort of player who has a big role to play for the club this season.
Following back-to-back defeats to open the new campaign, Young was given an opportunity for the North Melbourne game following questions as to whether there was enough physical presence in the centre of the Port Adelaide midfield.
Two victories later and Young is looking at finally earning himself an extended run in the Power midfield, where his speed and height give Port Adelaide a different dimension.
The 23-year-old may well be one of the surprise packages during the early stages of the season. Despite struggling to convince the Power management of his ability to play more than a handful of games at a time,
Young has taken his chance with both hands and has been integral to Port’s upturn in fortunes in recent weeks at a time in the season when things had looked a touch dicey.
A lack of competitiveness in terms of the hard ball during the opening two games proved costly in the defeats to Fremantle and Sydney Swans, and there is no denying Young’s talent in that area was evident in the morale-boosting wins over strong North Melbourne and Hawthorn teams.
Injury to Ollie Wines against the Kangaroos highlighted the need for more physicality in the middle of the park and Young’s impressive form couldn’t have come at a better time for head coach Ken Hinkley. The young gun’s wrist injury dampened the Power’s victory over North Melbourne, with the midfielder expected to be out of action for up to a month. But Young will know this is his best opportunity to finally get a run of games under his belt, five years after being drafted by the Power.
Wines’ injury has given Young a level of assurance that he won’t find himself on the bench again anytime soon. That said, the youngster’s form since his return to the starting line-up has made it hard for Hinkley to consider dropping Young.
In his opening two appearances of the season, the midfielder averaged 22 disposals, recorded nine tackles and kicked two goals, producing one of his best performances in a Port Adelaide jersey in their victory against a Hawthorn team who are priced at the time of writing at 11/4 with bet365 to go all the way this season. Against the Hawks, Young caused his opponents problems all over the park, winning clearances, making tackles and generally making a nuisance of himself.
Young wasn’t the only Power player who really stepped up to the plate against the title favourites, led by Travis Boak’s 30 disposals as well as Hamish Hartlett’s 22 possessions and Brad Ebert’s 25 touches.
Nathan Krakouer doesn’t always receive the credit he deserves but the defender’s 18 gathered disposals at the back didn’t go unnoticed by Port Adelaide’s fans or management, laying the platform for forwards Jay Schulz, Justin Westhoff, Paddy Ryderand and Jared Polec to do what they are capable of up front.
They might not be the favourites but there is a growing confidence about this Port Adelaide side that could lead to something special this season.