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"We rate ourselves": Power coach shrugs off preseason punditry

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Ken Hinkley will be looking for plenty of positives from a pre-season of soul-searching at Alberton when Port Adelaide takes on grand finalist Sydney tomorrow – but he concedes coming home with four premiership points would more than suffice.

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“That’d be enough,” the Power coach quipped when asked what he was hoping to gain from the game besides the win.

Fronting media on the eve of Port’s season opener, Hinkley did however concede he was eager to see the fruits of a much-touted revamp of his game-plan, after two middling seasons.

Hinkley noted there would be “plenty we’re looking for individually, collectively and, more importantly, just to see that the system we’ve put in place comes together on game day”.

“We’ve sharpened up our program big time over the summer with lots of things,” he said.

While he declined to elaborate, he noted the new set-up would be sorely tested by the battle-hardened Swans on-ball brigade.

“You’re probably under the most pressure you can get under in Sydney,” he said.

He would know: the Swans have beat Port in 11 of the 14 games they’ve played in their hometown – including the past seven straight.

“We understand the quality of the team we’re going up there to play,” Hinkley said.

But he insists: “We go up there with some confidence that our bigger bodies are able to match their big bodies.”

You should be full of excitement, and we are

Once the envy of the competition, the commentariat’s consensus is that the Power’s frenetic style that propelled it into a preliminary final in 2014 had been nullified by opposition tacticians, if not undone by injuries and suspensions to key personnel.

One of those, former Essendon ruckman Paddy Ryder, will be feeling the sense of occasion more than most, playing his first AFL match since serving a year-long Court of Arbitration for Sport-imposed suspension, along with his former Bomber teammates.

“You’ll see at the start how excited he is, the way he jumps at the footy,” Hinkley enthused.

But it is Hinkley who will carry the can if Port fails to fire – and he insists broad prognostications of another Power failure are meaningless.

“We’re never going to offer excuses for not being able to play at our best, anytime,” he said.

“We rate Port Adelaide.

“As a football club, we certainly rate ourselves – and we certainly give ourselves some opportunity to have a successful season… we expect that of ourselves.

“I’m not worried about what other people expect or don’t expect [because] most of the expectation we place on ourselves.”

Hinkley says on the eve of the 2017 season the team is at its “fittest and freshest”.

“You should be full of excitement, and we are,” he said.

Of the Power’s Sydney hoodoo, he noted: “It’s a great year to break it!”

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