KEN HINKLEY says form will be rewarded and therefore Brett Eddy is seemingly shaping for a Round 1 debut.
Port Adelaide has a free rookie elevation opportunity, and the former South Adelaide goal machine is a prime candidate to grab that opportunity.
Ken Hinkley expects to see the 27-year-old Victorian find his way to an AFL debuty.
Though the Power coach was circumspect about naming exactly when that might be, it could be as early as Round 1.
"I thought I might get a question about Brett ... probably deserves to play doesn't he?" Hinkley said.
"He's going to be pretty close, obviously he's a rookie still, but we've got to do the right thing.
"We reward form normally, but I wouldn't be surprised if we have a 27-year-old debutant."
Eddy's form in the pre-season has been solid - finding plenty of ball against the Saints and Tigers before unleashing five goals on his old stamping ground on Sunday against the Hawks.
The reigning Ken Farmer Medallist (that's the gong handed to the SANFL's annual leading goal kicker) had found an AFL career elusive, but Hinkley is of the belief he's earned a chance at the big time in 2017.
"He's probably deserved it [and AFL career] before this pre-season, but you get reluctant because of age," Hinkley said.
"But you look at the level below and he's kicked 70 or 80 goals [in the SANFL] ... you think, 'Why not?'"
Port Adelaide plays Sydney at the SCG in the AFL's Opening Round on Saturday 27 March.