West Coast coach Adam Simpson reckons Paddy Ryder is a lock for All-Australian selection this season after the Port Adelaide ruckman played a starring role in Sunday’s 32-point win over the Eagles.
The Power looked to be in trouble after West Coast booted seven unanswered goals to open up a 24-point lead in the second term.
But Ryder put on a rucking masterclass to inspire Port Adelaide to the 18.12 (120) to 13.10 (88) win.
Ryder finished with 17 disposals, 39 hit-outs, six tackles and two goals in a best-on-ground display.
His herculean performance helped Port Adelaide’s midfield dominate when the game was there to be won, with the Power dominating the inside-50m battle 37-14 in the second half.
Ryder missed all of last season to serve a doping ban emanating from Essendon’s 2012 supplements scandal.
It meant 197cm utility Jackson Trengove was forced to shoulder most of Port’s ruck load in 2016.
But Ryder has made up for lost time this year, playing a crucial role in Port Adelaide’s surge into fourth spot.
Simpson conceded his team’s ruck pairing of Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy had their colours lowered in the ruck by Ryder.
“Ryder is the No.1 ruckman in the comp at the moment,” Simpson said.
“He would be an All-Australian straight up walk-in selection in my eyes.”
Power coach Ken Hinkley was equally glowing in his praise of Ryder.
“He’s a pretty special player. I love him,” Hinkley said.
“He’s the best ruckman in the competition and we’re lucky to have him back in the team this year.
“He is dominating games week in, week out.”
Port Adelaide went some way towards shaking off their ‘pretenders’ tag with their fighting win in Perth.
But Hinkley knows there’s still plenty of work to do if his side is to secure a top-four finish.
Port Adelaide host North Melbourne on Saturday, before facing off against finals aspirants Melbourne, St Kilda, and Adelaide in the following three weeks.
Young midfield gun Sam Powell-Pepper is expected to face the Kangaroos despite injuring his right shoulder against the Eagles.
Powell-Pepper was clearly distressed while he sought medical attention in the second quarter after laying a heavy tackle.
But he was able to return to the field in the second half without any issues.