Westhoff to answer tall call at the Power
JUSTIN Westhoff says new teammate Charlie Dixon hasn't been mistaken for him around Adelaide yet, but it's "something to look forward to".
The Port Power pair have matching 'hipster' beards, and will be equally important to their injury-riddled side keeping the pressure on the current top eight, starting with a win over a near-full-strength Brisbane, boosted by Dayne Beams' return, at the Adelaide Oval tomorrow.
The Power's grand plan was to have Paddy Ryder as the No.1 ruck, with Matthew Lobbe in support, ex-Sun Charlie Dixon joining Jay Schulz up forward, and the mobile Westhoff roaming.
But Dixon (202cm) and Westhoff (199cm) are the only two left standing for coach Ken Hinkley, and will need to not only provide targets in attack but also share big-man duties with regular defender Jackson Trengove (198cm).
"Obviously with Lobes (Lobbe) going down (with a knee injury) it's hurt our ruck stocks, but I think we've got guys who can cover it," Westhoff said.
"It's always good to be up on the forward line … but I think playing a variety of positions benefits the team. I'm keen to get up the ground if I'm kind of not finding the footy. I tend to have a little bit of a licence to do that, whereas some of the other guys probably don't."
Westhoff said he has been impressed with Dixon since he arrived from the Gold Coast.
"He's come across here with a real positive mindset," he said. "Just his attack on the ball. It's not just his size and his marking capabilities, it's what he can do on the ground; tackle hard and put pressure on, that's probably the biggest thing I've noticed. He's a competitive beast."
The 187-game Westhoff admits the pressure is building on the Power, initially seen as a genuine flag fancy, but currently sitting ninth (3-3).
"Coming off of last year when we were expected to make finals and go deep into finals but not quite getting there, that pressure builds over time," he said.
"But I think we've got the right coaching staff and the right players to go further this year.
"We're in a period of the season where we need to string a few wins together and I think we have the opportunity to do that."
Brisbane will present a tough challenge, however, despite its 1-5 win-loss record. Almost at full strength for the clash with Beams back in the middle and young Josh Schache up forward, and coming off a three-point loss to Sydney, the Lions will head to Adelaide with confidence.
"Brisbane has been pretty solid," Westhoff said. "They are unlucky not to get the wins on the board. They've got some really good players. They pride themselves on tough contested footy and that's something we pride ourselves on."
Whatever role Westhoff ends up playing, he will look to lead by example for the club he debuted with in 2007.
The 29-year-old has been included in the Power's leadership group for the first time this year.
"I'm one of the old buggers no. It's good to have that little bit of respect within the group, to be voted in by them is a huge honour," he said.
It's a juggling act for Westhoff, though - he also has plenty of responsibilities at home as a husband and father of three.
"Obviously AFL is getting more stressful. It's very difficult to get a good work-life balance.
"With kids as soon as you step home you're in a different world.
"I've got family that's up in the Barossa (Valley) and I tend to get away head back there whenever I can."