Port Adelaide has declared the “honeymoon is over” for too many slow-starting younger players, and they need to lift after a “poor” month of footy from the premiership aspirants.
A one-point escape at the MCG on Sunday against Collingwood came after another poor first quarter from Port, which assistant coach Nathan Bassett said his team had to address fast.
Port has been outscored in six first quarters this season, and three of the past four, as part of an ordinary stretch that includes big losses to premiership rivals the Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs.
“Our starts have been poor, especially interstate. We tried something a little bit different this week, I don’t think we will do that again,” Bassett said without revealing exactly what that new pre-match strategy was.
“Generally, it’s between the ears. It’s about educating each player so they can start with the necessary energy to play at the highest level they can.
“If we could fix it easily, we would do it. The reality is we are not as strong in the contest as we should be early, and the opposition win more of the footy.
“It’s on all of us. We looked flat and stagnant for long parts of the game. It would have been a tough game as a spectator to watch. I can assure you as a spectator it was much tougher.
“Our last month of footy hasn’t been great. We’ve been performing below the level of what a good finals team should perform at.
“We’re working through what great looks like as a team, and we are a bit short of it right now.”
After just 21 disposals and no goals in the past two weeks, the blowtorch has turned on young gun Connor Rozee, who Basset said had been, like his teammates, well down recently.
CHAD CORNES: Connor (Rozee) isn’t where he needs to be. He’s just not getting enough of the ball. I’m confident his form will turn around as he’s too good a player.
Without putting Rozee’s spot in the team in jeopardy, Bassett declared that Rozee, who has now played 46 games, was “working through” the demands of being a more consistent player.
“Connor hasn’t played that well for the last two weeks,” Bassett said.
“I thought Connor tried really hard (against Collingwood), he was trying to play the right way, but the game didn’t come to him.
“Connor is a good young man who is learning what it’s like to play regular AFL football. The honeymoon period is over, and now it’s working towards being a good, then a very good AFL player. That’s what we are working with on Connor now.”
Bassett suggested more time in the midfield could be a good way to get more from Rozee.
“I think we missed some opportunities to use him. We would like to give him more midfield time,” he said.
“We’re still working through what’s best for Connor, but he needs to play the bets footy wherever he is paying.”
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