Port to ride out ruck storm
CAPTAIN Travis Boak has called on Port Adelaide's midfield to lift as the club continues to deal with the absence of All-Australian ruckman Paddy Ryder.
With coach Ken Hinkley ruling out promoting any of his untried ruck trio of Billy Frampton, Sam Hayes or Peter Ladhams for Saturday night's Anzac Round blockbuster against Geelong at Adelaide Oval, Boak said the Power's on-ball brigade must get the job done against Cats stars Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood.
"There's no doubt we miss Paddy and we'd love to have him out there with us but he's not at the moment so we've just got to get it done without him, as a whole midfield group,' Boak said.
"We got beaten around the ball against Essendon and while we're trying different things at the moment we've just got make sure our midfielders get their hands on the ball first.
"We've just got to deal with things a bit better until we get Paddy back.''
Ryder has missed Port's past three matches with Achilles tendinitis after being hurt against Fremantle in round one.
H won't play against Geelong and could miss up to three more games.
The 3-1 Power, which lost its first game of the season to the Bombers by 22 points at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, has been getting by with a ruck mixture of swingman Justin Westhoff, forward Charlie Dixon and defender Dougal Howard.
But the trio was belted by Brisbane ruckman Stefan Martin in round three before being outpointed by Essendon's Tom Bellchambers, who isn't one of the game's premier ruckmen.
Bellchambers' 45 hit-outs were more than the three Port fill-ins could manage between them (39).
"We are trying a few different things in there with Dougal, Charlie and 'Hoff' and they are working hard but obviously they are not genuine ruckmen,'' Boak said.
"So our midfielders, including myself, just have to find a way to win the ball at ground level from ruck contests.''
The Power lost the clearance battle by four against the Dons, 41-45, despite star playmaker Robbie Gray having a game-high 10 - three more than any other player on the ground.
Hinkley has been under public pressure, particularly from club great Kane Cornes, to promote a young natural ruckman like Frampton.
But the coach hit back at the pundits after the Essendon defeat, saying none of his team's young big men are ready for promotion.
"I should say this really clearly, we haven't got a ruck ready to play,'' Hinkley said.
"I think people should stop calling for that because they don't know. It's a really ridiculous thing from outside to say, pick a young ruckman who is not ready to play.
"If you watched our SANFL team (on Saturday) you'll see some young rucks who are not ready to play.
"I'm not going to play people who don't deserve to be out there and who can't physically compete when they are out there. Don't get confused with what we've got underneath.''
Boak backed Hinkley's comments that Port needs to become more consistent to reach its goal of being a "great'' side.
"We need to make sure that each week, each quarter, we play the same, hard footy, especially around the ball, otherwise we'll get beaten,'' he said.