PORT ADELAIDE coach Ken Hinkley has confirmed he expects to make two changes to his side to face Greater Western Sydney on Sunday with defender Ryan Burton among the inclusions.
Burton had minor surgery after spraining his knee in the Round 2 win over Adelaide.
He was close to a return last week but elected to wait another week to ensure his fitness to resume.
The 23-year-old has one last hurdle to clear at training on Saturday.
“If Ryan comes up, he’ll play and Riley Bonner and Tom Rockliff won’t play – and we’ll bring in (Cam) Sutcliffe,” Hinkley said at a press conference on Friday.
“If we get through unscathed from tomorrow, that’s what we’d expect to do.
“Tom hasn’t been selected on form so we’ll make a change and we’ll basically change it up in that area of the ground and that’s one of the consequences of that.”
Hinkley denied his side could not play with both Rockliff and vice captain Ollie Wines, saying the decision to omit Rockliff was purely down to form.
“No-one’s immune from selection issues – if your form’s not up to it, you lose your spot, whether that’s Ollie (Wines) or Tom (Jonas) as captain, then that’s the rules,” Hinkley said.
“We made a decision based on Tom’s form over the last two or three weeks that it hasn’t quite been what we need.
“He’s a stoppage player for us and he needs to influence the play around the ball. Certainly, last week we were beaten up pretty badly around the ball and Tom was only one part of that.
“Tom’s aware that his form is not where it needs to be.”
The last time the sides met was at Adelaide Oval in Round 19 last year, when the GIANTS held on for a one-point win against an inaccurate Port side.
Hinkley said his side’s opposition was one of the better intercept marking sides in the competition and delivery into the forward line would need to be good.
“They’re certainly one of the teams that do that very well and we’ve had experience against a West Coast side like that,” he said.
“I think every side wants to be an intercept side by your marking defenders and GWS have had a great history of being able to do that well and it’ll be a challenge for us.”
After a slow start to 2020, the GIANTS have won their last two games against Collingwood and Hawthorn.
When asked whether they are the competition benchmark, Hinkley said he did not classify any one side as a benchmark.
“There’s no benchmark in this competition. It’s great competition against great sides every week,” he explained.
“There’s so much more to play out before we identify who are and aren’t the better sides in the competition.
“I worry about who we play against. We treat them all as benchmarks because if we don’t play well, we get beaten.”
Port Adelaide will travel to the Gold Coast on the day of the game for the first time, flying out at 6:30am.
And while it will be a new experience, Hinkley said his side would embrace it, as it has done with so many new experiences in this COVID-19 affected season.
“We’ll be fine doing it,” he said.
“As we’ve done all along, we’ll embrace the opportunity and we’ll get there nice and early on Sunday morning and get up to Metricon for our home game.
“We go there with a three and zero record this year so we go there with great confidence.”
Port Adelaide takes on the GIANTS from 1:05pm AEST / 12:35pm ACST on Sunday afternoon.