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Bigs can work together: Hinkley

Travis King  January 6, 2016 2:26 PM

AFL 2015 Training - Port Adelaide 251115

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 25: Charlie Dixon of the Power in action during the Port Adelaide Power training session at Alberton Oval, Adelaide on November 25, 2015. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)

KEN HINKLEY is convinced Port Adelaide's army of big men will make his side a more dangerous proposition next season – once the Power work out how to fit all the pieces together in the same team.

Port made a big-money play to recruit Gold Coast key forward Charlie Dixon in the off-season, adding more height to an already tall attack.

Some critics have questioned how Port will balance Dixon alongside Jay Schulz, Justin Westhoff and resting ruckmen Paddy Ryder and Matthew Lobbe in the same forward line, but Hinkley is confident his talls will cause opponents headaches.

"If big blokes can play, they can work. Brisbane won a flag with (Daniel) Bradshaw, (Jonathan) Brown and (Alastair) Lynch. I don't think there's anything wrong with having too many good big players in your team," the Power coach told SEN.

"Yeah, there's a balancing [act] that everyone's going to talk about and we probably need to work that out ourselves. We've only had them together for a short period of time. I'm really confident, though, that the boys can actually play together."

Port had trouble getting the best out of Ryder and Lobbe in a ruck-forward combination last season and Lobbe was heavily linked to a move away from Alberton during the trade period, but ultimately remained in Power colours.

Schulz also struggled to find his best form consistently, with the sharpshooter's goals tally tumbling from 66 goals in 2014 to 44 last year – although he played five fewer matches.

However, Hinkley tipped that "the tall forward might make a little bit more of a comeback" next season with interchange rotations capped at 90.

"I think it makes us quite dangerous, it's just a matter of whether we can make it work," he said.

"I'm really confident that the boys are desperate to make it work and if we get enough ball in our front half we're going to cause some problems."

After failing to live up to expectations of a premiership tilt last season, Port's players have dug deep this pre-season and three-quarters of the list ran personal best 3km time trials after the Christmas break.

The Power's list is relatively healthy and 41 players trained on Wednesday – with speedster Jared Polec one of just three players on a lighter workload as he overcomes a navicular injury.

Hinkley said having more time with the players – due to Port missing finals – had helped get more conditioning into the squad, but he praised the players' internal motivation to make amends for last season.

"Everyone pumps up what they're doing this time of year, but credit to the boys they have come back – we're quite a strong running team as it is – and to be able to do that is really pleasing," he said.

"The boys were self-driven and self-motivated, so that's always a good start."

And Hinkley said the Power maintained belief in their run-and-gun brand of football, despite claims opponents had worked out how to stifle Port's speed.

"I'm not big on the 'clubs work you out' system because if clubs work you out Hawthorn wouldn't have won three in a row, and Geelong wouldn't have won the three premierships and (neither would) Brisbane," he said.

"When you do your things well and you do them at your best, sides do their best to stop you, but if you're a good side it shouldn't be enough to stop you.

"So we just needed some more time … to fine tune what we do. We haven't been around, we probably came on the (finals) scene quite quickly and we just need to understand that nothing's given to you in this competition – you've got to work for it."


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