While Port Adelaide have a plethora of talent across the board, it is the Power’s menacing forward line which poses the biggest danger to Adelaide in Sunday’s Showdown clash, according to Crows coach Brenton Sanderson.
The Power, spearheaded by the league’s leading goalkicker Jay Schulz, are the second-highest scoring team in the competition.
Accompanying Schulz inside forward 50 are silky small forwards Chad Wingard and Robbie Gray, who are both pushing for All-Australian selection this year, along with a number of other potent forward options.
“I look at Ken’s (Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley) six forwards – those guys are red hot,” Sanderson said.
“When you look at Wingard, Gray, (Angus) Monfries, Schulz, (Justin) Westhoff, (Kane) Mitchell and other players as well, it’s a very difficult forward line to match up on and they’ve gotten a hold of us the last couple of times we’ve played them.”
With Sanderson touting the Power’s forward line as their most dangerous component, his decision to rest All-Australian defender Ben Rutten this week has raised a few eyebrows.
Sanderson acknowledged the risk he was taking in leaving out a defender of Rutten’s experience, but suggested he had a number of other defensive options that could stifle Port’s attack.
“Ben’s form’s been good, but you look at match-ups and the conditions, and this is the right week to spell him,” he said.
“It’s always a risk cause ‘Truck’ has been one of our most important defenders over our club’s history, he’s a 200-game player and he’s still got plenty of talent, but hopefully it’s a calculated risk.
“We’ve also got (Josh) Jenkins and (James) Podsiadly who have played back for us this year as well.
“(Brent) Reilly and (Brodie) Smith can also play tall so we have got plenty of back-up plans.”