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Port struggling for pieces in big man puzzle

Sport

Port Adelaide Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines says his AFL club’s thin ruck stocks are a “puzzling question” ahead of hosting Gold Coast on Sunday.

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After losing another ruckman to injury on Saturday, the Power’s big-man stocks will be tested on Sunday when they host Gold Coast and their imposing co-captain and ruck Jarrod Witts.

Port’s first-choice ruckman Scott Lycett is a month away from returning from a shoulder injury.

His initial replacement, seven-gamer Sam Hayes, has fallen from selection favour.

The Power’s mid-season draftee, ruckman Brynn Teakle, broke a collarbone when making his AFL debut last weekend.

Port has another potential ruckman on their list, Dante Visentini, but he’s an untested 18-year-old.

“It’s the gift that keeps giving,” Wines told reporters today of Port’s ruck problems.

“Whatever happens this weekend, not to sure. That is a really puzzling question for (coach) Ken (Hinkley) and the team.”

Port forward Jeremy Finlayson has filled in at ruck but at 196cm tall, he’s 12cm shorter and almost 10 kilograms lighter than Witts.

“He (Finlayson) is almost like another midfielder,” Wines said.

“And it almost might be a bit of a time in football where that more mobile fourth mid type of ruckman is coming in.

“You see a lot of really good ruckmen in the league still doing really good things but the times might be changing a little, where ruckmen who follow-up their work and be that extra number on the ground level is really important.”

Wines said whichever way Port selectors go, they’d be studying how best to combat Witts.

“What he does in the ruck and providing them first access to the ball, it probably keeps us midfielders on our toes a little bit more and perhaps not expecting us to win as many hits and negating their impact,” he said.

“But also he is a real figurehead around the ground, going forward or kicking long down the line he is always there either marking it or creating a contest.

“He is someone that we’re going to put a lot of work into.”

The Suns are coming off three-consecutive wins including a 43-point home victory over the Adelaide Crows on Sunday.

The last time they met, Port defeated the Gold Coast by 50 points.

This week’s Adelaide Oval clash starts at 3.40pm Sunday.

 – AAP

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