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Skipper returns for Alice Springs match

Harry Thring  March 6, 2013 11:12 AM

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Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley

We'll bring most of the boys in that didn't play last week, the obvious ones that most people would know about (Travis) Boak and (Brad) Ebert and those sort of players, (Jay) Schulz, (Justin) Westhoff, (Alipate) Carlile.
PORT Adelaide will welcome back captain Travis Boak for its match against West Coast in Alice Springs on Saturday night and will field a side close to its best 22.

Boak, vice-captain Brad Ebert and star forward Jay Schulz all skipped the Power's two-point loss to the Demons in Renmark, but coach Ken Hinkley said they would all play on Saturday night.

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"We'll bring most of the boys in that didn't play last week, the obvious ones that most people would know about (Travis) Boak and (Brad) Ebert and those sort of players, (Jay) Schulz, (Justin) Westhoff, (Alipate) Carlile.

"We'll take a pretty strong squad up there and see how we go."

Port will test itself against a side tipped to challenge for the premiership in 2013 and, with it set to be West Coast's final hit-out before round one, Hinkley expected a tough encounter.

The Eagles, like Port, will trial its round one side but Hinkley said the injection of experience into his squad would mean a far more composed outfit than the one that turned the ball over when under pressure last week.

"We know this will be West Coast's last game (for the NAB Cup), they'll bring a strong team up and we look forward to the challenge," he said.

"We were our own worst enemy last week a fair bit early on, we overused the ball and we didn't look composed underpressure.

"They were two very young squads out there last week, we'd expect to see that there's a fair bit more composure out there this week."

The coach also insisted the race to fill the remaining spot on his side's senior list was still wide open, despite the irresistible form of Western Australian rookie Kane Mitchell.

Mitchell has been a revelation since being offered his first chance at AFL level in last December's rookie draft, shining in the Power's first NAB Cup clash against St Kilda before exciting again last Sunday against Melbourne.

The 23-year-old collected 12 first-term possessions and finished with a game-high 26 touches.

But Hinkley said he wasn't close todeciding who would be elevated after Nick Salter was placed on the long-term injury list last month.

"We've got a couple more games to go and we need to make sure we see the players we can and see where they're at.

"Obviously Mitchell's done really well and we had (Darren) Pfeiffer back last week…there's still opportunities for those blokes."

As for Robert Walls' prediction that Port Adelaide will finish dead last in 2013, Hinkley respectfully disagreed.

"Robert's got an opinion, I respect his opinion, but we've got a different opinion," he said.

"I think [the Power have] shown all over the summer that they're willing to take on the challenge, no I think that's really important for them.

"We've challenged them right through the summer and so far they've met every challenge [but] we know AFL football's tough and there's going to be some more challenges."

Travis Boak is a midfielder in NAB AFL Fantasy. He averaged 83.72 points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy Hub.