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Burton feeling at home in Power backline

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 06: Ryan Burton of the Power warms up before the 2019 AFL round 03 match between the Brisbane Lions and the Port Adelaide Power at The Gabba on April 06, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos)
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 06: Ryan Burton of the Power warms up before the 2019 AFL round 03 match between the Brisbane Lions and the Port Adelaide Power at The Gabba on April 06, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos)

This story first appeared on afl.com.au

WHEN Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley ripped up his team's playbook in the off-season and started fresh, no-one benefited more than prized recruit Ryan Burton.

The 22-year-old had unexpectedly joined the Power after Hawthorn put him up for trade as part of the deal to deliver Chad Wingard to the Hawks.

Suddenly, Burton wasn't playing catch-up with his new teammates and adjusting to how they played.

He was on the same level.

"I found it pretty easy to pick up coming over from Hawthorn," Burton told AFL.com.au.

"The defence is really similar and the way we move the ball is really fast.

"We want to be really bold and really attack the opposition.

"That works personally for me and how I run off half-back and how the other boys do as well.

"We've got some extremely fit midfielders, high backs and high forwards that can run up and down the ground all day, which really helps us try to run teams off their legs."

Burton has slotted in seamlessly into the Power's backline, with the only downside a hamstring injury in the opening quarter of the round eight Showdown loss to Adelaide.

He missed the next two games, including the clash with his former club in round 10, but returned for the Power's victory over St Kilda in China.

The Power take on the Dockers at Optus Stadium on Saturday – a game that has massive ramifications for both clubs.

Both have 6-5 win-loss records after 11 games, with the Power clinging to eighth spot on the ladder, narrowly ahead of the Dockers on percentage.

"We can't afford to drop one, especially to a team that's right on our heels in terms of percentage," Burton said.

"We know what we did last time going over to Perth.

"We've got to re-enact that game style, that pressure and try and come back with another win."

That last time Burton referenced was an unlikely 42-point thumping of reigning premiers West Coast in round five.

The hardness of the playing surface at Optus Stadium has come under fire, with the Dockers joining the Eagles in moving training sessions away from the ground.

But Burton said it wouldn't be an issue, given he pulled up fine after playing at Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai.

"After playing in China, that's the hardest deck I've ever walked on," he said.

"It felt rock-hard running on there with normal sprigs on.

"I've played at Perth a couple times now and it's not as firm, so it shouldn't be any problem." The Power could welcome back vice-captain Hamish Hartlett for his first game since round five last year.

Hartlett – who attended the same Adelaide school as Burton – tore his ACL in training before a hamstring issue delayed his return this season.

"I grew up a Sacred Heart boy like him, grew up watching him down at Sacred Heart as captain there," Burton said.

"I grew up watching him play for Port Adelaide, barracking for him.

"Now, hopefully I get to run out alongside him, either this week or coming weeks, which will be very exciting."