PORT ADELAIDE will have its second AFL debutant of 2020 when it takes on the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval on Monday night, with coach Ken Hinkley confirming small forward Boyd Woodcock will get his first taste at the level.
Woodcock has been an emergency several times this season and was named on an extended bench last season but has had to wait for his opportunity after coming to Alberton in the 2018 draft which landed the club Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma and Woodcock’s North Adelaide Premiership-winning teammate Connor Rozee.
Speaking after the club’s captain’s run on Sunday at Adelaide Oval, Hinkley also confirmed Trent McKenzie had overcome a back complaint and would return to the side, after missing the last two games, at the expense of Jarrod Lienert.
“(Trent’s) a first-choice defender and unfortunately Lieno goes out but he did replace a defender last week so it’s almost like for like there,” Hinkley said.
“Lieno is in really good form and played really well last week but it does back up the thought that we’ve got some good depth underneath and people ready to play so that’s really positive.”
Woodcock will take the place of the experienced Brad Ebert, who drops out with injury.
“(It’s) fantastic news for all the hard work that he’s put up with. He’s one of those boys who was left back in Adelaide when we went up in the hub initially.
“He’s worked hard on his game. The disappointing part of that is that Brad Ebert goes out of the side injured.
“Brad had some, funnily enough it was an unusual one, we flew back from our last game and Brad then had some mild concussion symptoms.
“We tested him and he’s failed to come through that so looks like he had some delayed concussion from a really small knock during the game but we’re just not going to take any risks in such a short turnaround.”
Woodcock was delisted by Port Adelaide at the end of 2019 but re-claimed as a rookie.
Having been left behind in Adelaide while the team was in the hub on the Gold Coast earlier this season, the 20-year-old improved his aerobic capacity and worked hard on his craft, impressing the coaches.
“He’s a small forward who works really hard. He’s prepared to do anything for the team and he’ll play his role really well,” Hinkley said.
“He’ll be up and back on the ground, he’ll run hard and hopefully kick a couple of goals, which will be good for him to come in and hit the scoreboard as well.
“That’s his typical game. He’s a hard-working small forward who does whatever we need.”
The Bulldogs will be smarting after suffering a big loss to Richmond last Wednesday and Hinkley is expecting a strong response from the 2016 premier.
But he said after a disappointing result on home soil against St Kilda, he expected his side to put in a better showing.
“(The Bulldogs’) best form is outstanding,” he said.
“We’ve seen their great performances throughout the season and like any team in the competition they haven’t had every week that’s going to be perfect but when they do get it right they’re a hard team to beat and we understand the threat that they bring us.
“It’s important to come back and get a win here.
“We won in the Showdown but we lost our last game against St Kilda here. There’ll be nothing better than being back amongst the fans again and get a big win for them this time.”
Port Adelaide will be navigating a four-day turnaround between games for the first time, as part of the congested Round 9-12 fixture.
There has been limited time for training, with the focus over the weekend being mainly on recovery.
“It’s appeared pretty quickly as everyone could expect,” Hinkley said.
“We’re out here today having a run around Adelaide Oval. The boys look really good, they look like they’ve recovered really well, which is really pleasing.
“As we’ve done this year, we’ve had some challenges. This is a new one – a four-day break – but I’m sure the boys will be ready to go.”
First bounce on Monday night at Adelaide Oval is at 6:40pm.