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Hinkley punts on defenders to find form

Football

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley is punting on a pair of experienced backmen finding form in Saturday’s season-shaping AFL game against St Kilda.

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Hinkley has summoned defensive duo Jasper Pittard and Jack Hombsch after dropping both to the state league, among four changes for Port’s side to host the Saints.

“The team is certainly stronger if it can be on paper, but we need to put it out there on the ground,” Hinkley told reporters today.

“We understand a couple of the boys we have brought back in are part of our best team when we get them in good form.

‘We haven’t quite had that.

“But the challenge for us now is to make sure that Jack and Jasper come back into the side and play the roles we know they are capable of.

“They make us a stronger team, there’s no doubt about that.”

The fifth-placed Port also recalled midfielder Karl Amon and utility Aaron Young for the twilight fixture.

With playmaker Chad Wingard sidelined by an ankle injury, Hinkley dropped inexperienced trio Logan Austin, Jack Atley and Dan Houston.

St Kilda, in star onballer Jack Stevens’ 150th AFL game, will be weakened by the loss of stalwarts Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna while Koby Stevens will miss because of a groin injury.

The Saints recalled Tim Membrey, Brandon White and Maverick Weller, knowing a loss to Port would put a serious dent in their finals aspirations – they could slip two wins outside the top eight.

But Hinkley said Port was more motivated from within, than the prospect of eliminating a finals contender.

“We more want to control what we have in front of us,” Hinkley said.

“And whatever happens to the sides that we play against is up to them.

“For us, it’s about controlling where we want to go.

“We started out trying to be a part of the finals and that is what we’re still trying to do, we’re trying to achieve that opportunity.

“Right now, we’re still short of the mark.”

Port are a win shy of third spot but also just a win ahead of eighth.

“We could be, with a little luck, a little higher. A little bit go the other way, we would be a little lower too,” Hinkley said.

– AAP

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