In many ways, Dan Houston has represented Port Adelaide’s season. No one really expected anything of them a few months ago, but after an impressive opening two rounds the AFL world is starting to take notice. Houston was taken with pick 45 in the 2015 AFL Rookie Draft and was a dual premiership player with the Oakleigh Chargers in his junior years.
Houston was initially drafted as a forward, but injuries meant he had to be swung back in the SANFL, a move he described himself as a career-changer. He was doing a serviceable job as forward, but found himself fading in and out of games. He’s become a more impactful player since going into defence and that clearly saw him rewarded with senior selection.
Port Adelaide’s initial rise under Ken Hinkley was largely due to their counterattacking ball movement out of defence, something that they seemed to lose when things were at their worst across 2015 and 2016. Houston has found a home down back and has helped rectify the Power’s issues out of the backline with his precision kicking. In round two against the Dockers, Houston had 18 disposals, all of them kicks, and went at 83.3 per cent efficiency. He also took 11 marks and cut the hapless Fremantle to ribbons, rebounding 10 of their 43 inside 50s himself.
He was similarly impressive in Round 1 against Sydney where he gathered 12 disposals, also at 83.3 per cent efficiency. Is he a cyborg? Regardless, Houston has quickly become a major player in the Port Adelaide side and is currently ranked fourth in the competition for rebound 50s.
With so many rookie priced players not performing, those who snatched Houston up in their fantasy sides would be ecstatic with his performances. Houston has averaged 80 across the first two rounds, including a 99 last week, putting him in the top few cash cows in the competition.
Houston may have initially gotten into the side thanks to Jasper Pittard’s hamstring injury, but at this point you can be certain he’ll maintain his spot in the side indefinitely. With performances like the one he put up against the Dockers, he’ll be first picked every week. He should also be a lock to gain backline status in AFL Fantasy soon enough too.
The 19-year-old has been one of a handful of young Power players who have helped revitalise the side this season and with a top of the ladder Showdown next on the agenda, it’ll be interesting to see how they all hold up.