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Port pips Crows in draft coup

Football

Port Adelaide have put themselves in the box seat to snare a young South Australian star, after trading their way into the top six of the forthcoming AFL national draft.

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Both local AFL clubs have designs on top three prospects Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine in a draft brimming with SA talent, but North Adelaide premiership player Connor Rozee’s name is also expected to be called early, with Central Districts midfielder Jackson Hately another promising prospect.

Armed with a spread of early picks, the Power today handed Fremantle its number 11, 23, 30 and 49 selections, in exchange for the Dockers’ pick 6 and their third-round selection in next year’s draft.

For Fremantle, the move could facilitate a trade for gun Demons forward Jesse Hogan, amid speculation he will seek a move home to Western Australia.

The Dockers could also end up with pick 5 from Brisbane if they acquiesce to a trade request from former Glenelg product Lachie Neale.

Significantly, as it stands today, Port’s gamble puts the Power above the Crows on draft night, giving them first crack at an SA talent pool considered the strongest in years.

Port now have two picks in the draft’s top ten (6 and 10) and could yet end up with pick 7 if mercurial forward Chad Wingard requests a trade to the Western Bulldogs, who have been courting him.

He’s also been linked with a move to Hawthorn, with the Hawks holding pick 15.

Port Adelaide list manager Jason Cripps said in a statement the club’s objective “was to improve our position in this draft, in particular, the top end, as we believe it to be the strongest group seen for many years”.

“The picks that we used to assist in improving our position will be diluted with the number of Father/Son, NGA and Northern Academy players that are expected to be selected by the clubs that they are aligned to,” he said.

“A lot of planning, discussion and strategy goes into how we approach each trade period to ultimately achieve our objectives and secure talented players that improve our list.

“This trade gives us another top 10 pick, the highest since we selected Ollie Wines in the 2012 draft, allowing us to bring in two high-quality players.

“We also have an eye to the future and receiving a future third round pick gives us further flexibility for potential deals both this year, and into the future.”

The Crows are similarly keen to trade up into the top five of the draft, but are also attempting to “manage expectations” of achieving that goal.

List manager Justin Reid said yesterday such a pick swap was “a possibility… but at the same time, it’s very rare that those top picks move”.

“We obviously rate that SA talent highly, but at the same time, we’re not going to sell the farm to get to that position… and I still think it would be unlikely that those clubs are going to release those top picks anyway,” he told the NAB TradeRadio podcast.

The Crows are also expected to finalise a deal for young Richmond fringe player Tyson Stengle before the trade period ends next week.

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