AFL 9 months ago

Can Jackson Trengove Help Propel The Bulldogs Back Up The Ladder?

  • Can Jackson Trengove Help Propel The Bulldogs Back Up The Ladder?

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 8: Jake Stringer of the Bulldogs is tackled by Jackson Trengove of the Power during the 2015 AFL round 19 match between the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide Power at Etihad Stadium, on August 8, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Jackson Trengove will be the first player to make an official move in the 2017 off-season as on Friday, the Western Bulldogs lodged their papers to secure the versatile big man. As he is a restricted free agent, Port Adelaide would have had 72 hours to match the bid that was made by the Bulldogs, but will not match it, as they look set to secure Brisbane's Tom Rockliff via Free Agency after the Lions midfielder expressed his desire to join the Power in 2018.

Trengove will be a Western Bulldog in 2018, with the contract looks set to be a three-year deal worth around two million dollars. Shrewd recruiting had to be shown this off-season after the Bulldogs failed to make the finals following their stunning premiership victory in 2016.

Was signing Trengove a step in the right direction? Many supporters believe it is, and I'm not seeing many reasons why it isn't a bad decision.

Leading up to the 2008 AFL Draft - Trengove was widely tipped to be a top-10 selection. For a big man, he had the pace, the athleticism, the skill and the mentaility to be a really solid piece in any team. Expert Emma Quayle stated pre-draft that:

"Although he's played a lot as a ruckman, he looks natural in defence".

Furthermore, she also states that 'she'd happily pick him', which speaks a little bit about what Trengove is capable of at AFL-level. During the 2008 year, Trengove made a habit of getting into the heads of players, being able to get stuck into players such as the man who eventually went on to be pick one in 2008 Jack Watts and a triple-premiership ruckman Ben McEvoy - players that have gone on to forge solid AFL careers.

Unfortunately for Trengove, a hamstring that tore off the bone mid-2008 meant that his value dropped a fair bit. However, Port Adelaide saw enough to take Trengove with their second pick in the draft - number 22 overall, yet still ahead of Dayne Beams, Dan Hannebery, Steven Motlop, Liam Shiels and Rory Sloane. 

It wasn't just Quayle wasn't the only one who spoke highly of Trengove. Back then, Jason McCartney, who currently is the list manager at the Western Bulldogs, was an AFL Youth and High Performance co-coordinator at the time Trengove was set to be drafted and spoke nothing but high praise of the young man from the Calder Cannons Footy Factory, saying that Port Adelaide had recruited a 'Top-10 Talent' and that despite the severe hamstring injury, Port had secured a great pick-up.

Despite all the positive words, Trengove couldn't get a senior game in 2009 as his recovery from that hamstring injury took a bit longer than first thought, as he endured complications from his surgery to reattach the hamstring tendons, and was forced to go through another surgery procedure when it was found out he suffered nerve bruising, causing his right foot to become limp. 

But as the 2009 season progressed, Trengove slowly got into his rhythm and with a solid 2010 pre-season under his belt, made his debut for Port Adelaide in the opening round of the 2010 season, when Port Adelaide played North Melbourne, his stats were modest, only picking up nine disposals and taking a couple of marks, but from that point on, he would prove to be a regular feature in Port Adelaide's 22.

Playing as a key defender that played back-up ruckman, Trengove played 19 of Port's 22 games in his debut season, he was handed an AFL Rising Star nomination in round 20 for his 23 disposals, five marks and five tackles against West Coast, and by the end of the season, he was rewarded with the club's Gavin Wanganeen Medal for the best player under 21.

2011 would prove to be one of the toughest seasons in the history of the Port Adelaide footy club, as their on-field results were at an all-time low, but for Trengove, This was the stage and the scenario that he emerged as a key piece in Port's future, as he played all of their 22 games, averaged 15 disposals, five marks and two rebound 50s in a Port defence that was constantly under pressure. 

He was rewarded accordingly for his fine season as he won his only club best and fairest so far in his career, but at just 20 years of age, he still is the youngest -ever player to ever win Port's best and fairest, sharing the award with another promising Power player, a player who would go on to become the current captain of that football club - that man being Travis Boak. It's been said that these two both had aspiring leadership qualities and would be seen as just a couple of many Port Adelaide players to bring Port back out of the mire.

Throughout 2011, speculation grew as to whether or not Trengove will play on with the Power beyond 2011 or move back home to Victoria, where plenty of clubs were keen on securing such a talented big man, however in a testament to his loyalty for a club he could've easily departed, Trengove showed his commitment by signing for a further two years at the Power.

Since that day, Trengove has featured strongly in Port's finals campaigns in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, Trengove did very well to come back from an early-season foot injury that saw him sidelined for two months, and whilst Port were eventually knocked out in the Semi Finals by Geelong, Trengove was able to have a solid role in defence, shutting down big forward James Podsiadly. A year later, Trengove played an integral role in defence of a Port Adelaide team that fell just three points short of making the Grand Final.

The stats don't always tell you how big a player can make an impact, but throughout 2013 and 2014, Trengove has been more than capable of shutting down the influences of both key forwards and ruckmen alike - a real goer as some would say. But his role within Port Adelaide began to change when ruckman Paddy Ryder came to the club from Essendon at the end of 2014. 

He would play a more defensive role in limited time in 2015, as injuries partially derailed his season - an ankle injury mid-season and then a shoulder injury at the tail-end of the season forcing Trengove to play just 15 games for the season which to this day is the lowest amount of game he has played in a season, which does speak about his consistency and reliability in a side. 

With Ryder suspended in the 2016 season for his involvement in Essendon's supplements scandal, Trengove was able to play all but one game in 2016, both as a back-up ruckman to an out-of-favour Matthew Lobbe and at his natural home as a defender, with the occasional stint up forward as well, which would lead up to a regular spot up forward in 2017.

Port Adelaide coach used Trengove more forward this season, both as a marking option and as a negating forward. He kicked a career-best three goals on two occasions in 2017 - once against Brisbane and once against Carlton and whilst they may be bottom-tier teams, this shows that he is more than capable of playing forward, just as he is in defence or in the ruck.

His last game for the Power would prove to be in round 20 showdown against Adelaide, when he conceded four second-half goals to Josh Jenkins as the Crows demolished the Power. Trengove was dropped to the SANFL for the first time since the season he made his debut. Despite his big performances at state level in the following three weeks, he would not get recalled by Port for their Elimination Final against West Coast - a match that would see Port Adelaide sensationally knocked out in extra time.

Out of contract beyond the 2017 season, the writing was on the wall when Ken Hinkley opted to use forwards Justin Westhoff and Charlie Dixon as the back-up ruckman to the All-Australian ruckman Ryder, and opting to play youngsters Tom Clurey and Dougal Howard as the key pillars in defence ahead of the 153-game veteran Jackson Trengove, and as he enters his prime years, turning 27 years of age in November, the Bulldogs appealed as a great destination for Trengove to come back home to Victoria.

In terms of key defenders, the Dogs don't have a lot of options. Marcus Adams has been too injury prone in his first two years, Lewis Young is promising but is still a work in progress and whilst Zaine Cordy has been very impressive at times in 2017, I'm not so sure that he is suited to the big 196 centimetre-plus tall forwards, I think he's more of a second or third tall defender, and that's where Trengove comes in. 

On top of that, it's his versatility that has the Bulldog recruiters excited as he's shown that he can play virtually anywhere on the ground, and that's why I believe Trengove should slot in to the Bulldogs' best 22 little to no issue, and with esteemed veteran leaders Robert Murphy and Matthew Boyd both retired now, the Dogs could use some leadership and given that Trengove was once a member of Port's leadership group, this looks a magnificent fit.

Perhaps there will be another Port player to come to the Whitten Oval when this year's player exchange period is all said and done, as Trengove's great friend Jarman Impey - contracted until 2018 - considers his future at Port Adelaide, but Trengove insisted on AFL's Trade Radio on Friday that he is doing all he can to get his friend to cross over with him.

A very good start to the off-season for the Bulldogs as they signed on a key defender capable of taming the AFL's biggest monsters and with the Bulldogs linked to a few other names from multiple other clubs, will we see more players come across to Whitten Oval this off-season? Only time will tell.

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