PORT Adelaide’s decision to take a punt on unwanted Demon Jack Watts has been hailed as a masterstroke by Champion Data.
While the 2008 No. 1 draft pick Watts is a polarising player who has had his toughness questioned, Champion Data analyst Daniel Hoyne has described him as a “fantastic’’ addition and the perfect fit for the flag-chasing Power.
Hoyne said Watts could be “the point of difference’’ Port needs after stinking it up going inside 50 last season.
The Power, which finished fifth at the end of the minor round before being shockingly knocked out of the premiership race in extra-time of the elimination final against West Coast, ranked 16th in retention rate from kicks inside 50.
Its inability to hit targets and finish off its work in front of goal after controlling possession cost it games during the season and ultimately proved its downfall in September.
Port has now been dubbed “October premier” after a superb trade period that netted it key targets Watts and free agents Tom Rockliff from Brisbane and Steven Motlop from Geelong.
Midfielder-forwards Rockliff and Motlop are the splash signings but Hoyne believes key forward Watts — renowned as being an elite kick — could be the surprise packet because of how he can change the dynamics for coach Ken Hinkley’s outfit.
“Watts is a fantastic signing because if Port goes down the same path as last season by applying a high territory game, generating a lot of inside 50s and the ball being locked in its forward half then he is that point of difference because of his ability to use the ball so well,’’ Hoyne said.
“His inside 50 kicking is one of his main assets and sets him apart from a lot of the other blokes Port uses forward of centre.
“The Power wasn’t able to capitalise on its territory dominance last season and Watts will help with that.’’
Watts, 26, ranks second in the AFL for retention rate of kicks inside 50 in the past two seasons.
His 64.2 per cent retention rate sits only below Adelaide captain Taylor Walker (72.3).
Traded for pick 31 at this year’s national draft, Watts, who has kicked 143 goals in 153 games, is a cheap get for Port.
Melbourne has revealed it is paying “about 15 per cent’’ of Watts’ contract for the next two years because it wanted to get him off its books.
Power premiership coach Mark Williams has joined the chorus of pundits to question Watts’ toughness and ruthlessness to play AFL, saying he is “too nice’’.
But Hoyne believes Watts can reignite his career with Port by playing a similar “connector’’ role to the one fellow tall Tom Lynch plays at the Crows.
“He is absolutely suited to that role in that he gets up the ground, wins enough of the footy and delivers it with precision,’’ he said.
“The thing with Watts is that when he wins the ball good things happen for his team.’’