TRAVIS Boak will be making many new friends in football this month.
The Port Adelaide captain will join the cream of the AFL crop on Thursday as a member of the Australian team to play Ireland. And a fortnight later he will start inducting a new Power crew after a dramatic and productive recruiting run that is still playing out at Alberton.
“Five years ago, no one wanted to come to us,” said Boak, who in 2012 had Geelong court him in a mid-season presentation in Adelaide.
“Now we do have players coming to us – players we chased, players we wanted. And to get an All-Australian (Tom Rockliff), a No. 1 draft pick (Jack Watts) and a pretty special player from Geelong (Steven Motlop) join us is a big coup for the football club.”
Port Adelaide will start pre-season training on Thursday, November 24 with Boak to find a quarter (11) of the Power squad has moved on – and list manager Jason Cripps has delivered major signings with Rockliff, Motlop and Watts in the trade period.
The Power already has secured Melbourne midfielder Jack Trengove and Gold Coast defender Trent McKenzie from the delisted free-agent pack and has North Melbourne forward Lindsay Thomas ready to move from Arden Street after he was released by the Kangaroos on Friday.
“I am keen to get back to training to lead this new group,” said Boak, who has spent his break “on the most unbelievable trip I have been on” in the US.
Boak played a significant part in the Power’s busy recruiting run. Motlop, after being courted by six AFL clubs, declared Boak’s presentation made the biggest impression in his decision to leave Geelong for the Power.
“Everyone I spoke to,” Boak said, “the message was how much this club means to me – and now you are not just part of a football club, but a very close group of players.
“We have built something pretty bloody special in the past five years. The players who have come to us recently – Charlie Dixon, Paddy Ryder, Jared Polec – have all had their best years once they have come to Port Adelaide.
“It will be the same with the guys we are bringing in now. They have much to add to our team – and I am sure they will fit in well.”
Before he returns to Alberton, Boak will be part of the 22-man Australian team that plays Ireland in the hybrid AFL-Gaelic International Rules series at Adelaide Oval next Sunday.
“I’m excited to be part of the side again after missing out last time (2015) with injury,” Boak said.
Boak is one of six SA-based players who will gather under Australian coach Chris Scott’s watch in Adelaide on Thursday. He will be joined by his Power team-mates Chad Wingard and All-Australian ruckman Patrick Ryder.
Adelaide also has three representatives in the 22-man Australian squad – Crows vice-captain Rory Sloane, All-Australian defender Rory Laird and specialist forward Eddie Betts.
Sloane, Ryder and Laird are to play the hybrid game for the first time.
Ireland holds the IRS Cormac McAnnellen Trophy. The two-Test series closes in Perth as the AFL’s last event at Subiaco Oval in Perth on Saturday, November 18.