He has been knocked down in the ruck pecking order at Port Adelaide. And while he fight to win back his AFL spot, Paddy Ryder’s services could be very much in demand at several other clubs.
Ryder will double-down in pursuit of his Port Adelaide future before flag hopefuls come calling for an All-Australian ruck fix at season’s end.
Scott Lycett’s demolition of Geelong’s Rhys Stanley on Saturday affirmed his status as Port’s No. 1 ruckman and highlighted the value of a specialist big man in September.
Port Adelaide assistant Jarrad Schofield says there is ‘no hierarchy’ in Port’s rucks but conceded Lycett’s career-best, 41-hit-out display against Geelong last Saturday was hard to go past.
The news understands Ryder, 31, intends to fight in the queue with Peter Ladhams, Billy Frampton and Sam Hayes for a recall — and tenure — before exploring options.
Essendon great Matthew Lloyd expects Ryder to be squeezed from a Port squad blessed with talls including Dougal Howard and Charlie Dixon.
“I think he is in trouble with Dixon back, I don’t see how they play him,” said Lloyd.
“I think he is just a back up for Lycett.”
Schofield noted Ladhams, 21, was “playing well in the SANFL” and would compete with veterans Ryder and Justin Westhoff for promotion if Howard accepts a one-match ban for striking Geelong’s Harry Taylor.
Port coach Ken Hinkley says Ryder is a required player and “part of the furniture” at Alberton but the 238-game star can only hope for a one-year deal to stay. Opportunity and security loom interstate for Ryder who thrives with the No. 1 ruck role and prefers to pinch hit rather than play as key forward.
The ruck merry-go-round is gaining steam with Collingwood’s Brodie Grundy putting off fresh contract talks until next year.
Ryder would have to accept a significantly reduced, performance-based contract to remain at Alberton but rival clubs could prioritise his hit-out to advantage expertise.
GWS could seek to replace ageing Shane Mumford at season’s end while Richmond would have appreciated a foil for injured Toby Nankervis through a slide from the eight this year. The Cats must consider a specialist ruckman if a flag eludes them this season says Lloyd.
“Someone is going to fail and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was their big men that let them down whether Mumford or Rhys Stanley,” Lloyd told AFL.com.au.
“Paddy Ryder, you put your arm around him and say you are our No. 1 ruckman for the next two years and you get a brilliant ruckman, an All Australian ruckman.”
Schofield concedes Port’s victory against Geelong will be devalued if it can’t overcome the 15th ranked Western Bulldogs on Saturday night. Port hasn’t won successive games since Round 6 and Lloyd says the Power must crush Luke Beveridge’s men to gain finals credibility.
Lloyd believes Port must deliver clinical wins in the race to September.
“They should smash the Dogs to show what their credentials are,” Lloyd said.
“It’s about what they do next week. Port are a good side. They were in West Coast’s face, beat them, do it to Geelong and have a shocker against Hawthorn in Tassie.
“I reckon they get built up, Ken Hinkley is an emotional person.”