Our motivation is to gain belief and trust in our game
“We have a responsibility to go with ‘winning.’ We will never stop trying to win every opportunity that comes our way. If others have a different point of view, I don’t share it…”
Port Adelaide head coach Ken Hinkley could not have been clearer on how Port Adelaide will approach the end of a frustrating 2022 season which failed to meet internal and external expectations.
At 8-11, Port Adelaide can’t reach the minimum 12 win threshold to qualify for their third consecutive AFL Finals series. But there are no changes to the play-to-win agenda for the remaining home and away ties against Richmond, Essendon and Adelaide – starting with Richmond, the 2017, 2019 and 2020 premier, at Adelaide Oval Saturday night.
“Winning is great for the development (of players, teams and their culture),” Hinkley told Adelaide Oval on Friday. “It’s really important.
“Our motivation is to gain confidence and confidence in our game. We still have a lot to gain (compared to the rest of the season back and forth).”
Captain Tom Jonas and his lieutenant Ollie Wines took over the agenda for Port Adelaide to put the number of wins and losses at 11-11.
“The group is well led by Tom and Ollie who have the approach that (the team) needs to maximize opportunities for 2022,” Hinkley said. “The end result is not where we want to be. But there are opportunities for us to grow and continue to improve. To improve as a football club – and to show that we have some time to continue and continue.
“There is a real challenge for our players – and they are led by team managers who want to make sure they give their all for the rest of the season.”
Upon selection, Port Adelaide restored the role of a designated specialist ruckman, preferring mid-season signing Brynn Teakle for his second AFL game. His first – against Sydney at Adelaide Oval in round 14 on June 18 – ended early in the second term with a broken collarbone.
Port Adelaide will reassign Charlie Dixon and Jeremy Finlayson to key attacking roles – positions vacated by young forwards Todd Marshall (COVID) and Mitch Georgiades (form).
“We were keen to give Brynn a chance before the end of the season,” Hinkley said of the West Australian rookie who extended his stay at Alberton on a new contract. “And (the loss of Marshall) half-forced the opportunity for us – and made the decision-making easier. We were very happy with what we were able to do in the ruck with Jeremy and Charlie; it worked out pretty well. for us.
“Brynn was pretty exciting in that game against Sydney. He’s fully recovered. And we’re not rushing him.”
Georgiades fall after having managed four, 10 and five eliminations in their last three games with just five points – and a noticeable lack of confidence in their kicks.
“It’s purely on form,” Hinkley said of Georgiades’ downfall at the SANFL. “Everyone’s going Todd (Marshall) is off the side you’re guarding Mitch. It doesn’t quite work that way. You also have to make sure you’re keeping players fit – and capable of giving you a result.
“Mitch is a developing young forward. And I’ve been on this journey (of developing key young forwards) with Todd Marshall. Sometimes there’s that time when they have to go back (to the SANFL) to work on other stuff – and they’ll come back and be better next time. He’s such a young and exciting young striker that we really like having him in our squad when he’s fit.
“Right now Mitch is out of shape. If you’re not able to perform at your best, it doesn’t matter if you’re a bit taller (than the other forward options), you must be efficient.
“(Mitch’s kicks) affect his confidence, which affects his form,” Hinkley said of Georgiades’ conversion record this season (19.23 compared to 32.17 last season).
“There’s no doubt about it. Mitch has worked really hard (on his kicks). He’s been a good converter on the trip, but this year it hasn’t worked. He spends a amazing time on his kicks.
“I had a really good chat with Mitch for 30 minutes yesterday…we discussed a lot of things. Confidence is really important, especially for key forwards. His conversion is not at the level he is. And it affected his confidence to play other parts of the game as well.
“Mitch spends time working on his confidence – and his shots on goal. It’s all about his mindset. He’s got good technique and a good routine. The problem is he’s coming off the top of his stroke thinking, ‘I hope this passes. .. “He doesn’t believe it will pass. It happens to all footballers at some point. There’s this self-doubt that creeps in. You don’t ignore it. You work with it.”
Port Adelaide’s selection for the remaining three games of the season must not be compromised by ‘offering’ games to young prospects.
“Opportunity will come (for new talent) through form (in the SANFL),” Hinkley said. “And injuries … and health and safety protocols (with COVID) like with Todd Marshall this week.
“They will get their chance at the right time, but mainly through form. We have been good at playing with young players and developing young players with opportunities – if their form deserves it. Ollie Lord is a great example. He has been in very good shape in the SANFL (most recently as a defender rather than a striker). He could have an opportunity in the next couple of weeks.”
It is also necessary to see specialist striker Orazio Fantasia erase his injury curse. This will continue in the SANFL over the weekend.
“Orazio, if he gets through the (Saturday’s SANFL) game, will have his best chance (for an AFL recall),” Hinkley said. “His progression has been very well managed – and it looks like it’s coming to fruition. He’s coming late. If he gets one or two AFL games, it’s great for Orazio to bring him into pre-season. “
Winger Kane Farrell has found his development extended to work as a defender against Collingwood – a theme that could land other players in new roles over the next three weeks.
“Farrell at halfback was a good opportunity for us because we had Dan Houston and Riley Bonner out of the team,” Hinkley said. “We will not force these opportunities, but if they arise, we will certainly take them.
“If we get growth looking at different things, that will be important. But we will never compromise the opportunity to win.”
The question is how Port Adelaide performs when there is no pressure from the ‘Premier’s Table’.
“It’s a great challenge and a great opportunity to learn,” Hinkley said of the task ahead of his players to reach their peak of form. “You can play the game however you need to – and for us there is always pressure to perform; always pressure to win at the end of the game. We have a huge game against a team that fights for his life and was one of the great teams (of the last seasons), it’s a nice challenge.
“We have a great history against Richmond with some tough games. Unfortunately we lost some of the closest ones (including the last encounter at the MCG by 12 points).
“We want to beat Richmond.”
To do that, Port Adelaide needs to weed out its damaging insolvencies – some that drag on for a full quarter – and the high and costly turnover that has played a big part in deciding the close games.
“You’ll see that with every team in the competition,” Hinkley said of the wild ride that unfolds in the 2022 Premiership race. develop a style of play for it. It took us longer than we would have liked. We didn’t defend every minute of every game as we would like. A small lapse can hurt you badly on the scoreboard.
“We’ve had small lapses…and they’re real lapses. We’re looking at them very closely. We did it again last week (with the second term against Collingwood at the MCG in the spotlight). We’re going through this in incredible detail to make sure we’re looking to improve and tighten the runs that opposing teams get against us.
“Unfortunately our season suggests we’ve given up on too many of those races – and we haven’t put enough on the board ourselves (when the momentum favors Port Adelaide).
“There’s not an AFL program that doesn’t spend a lot of time on skill execution – and skill under pressure. We do a lot of that. But we haven’t maximized (on-field results during the All I can say is that we put an incredible amount of time into it every week and this week we’re focusing even more on what we’re trying to improve.
“We know the turnover is too high. That’s why these opposition runs are coming. They’re due to our inability to maximize our scoring opportunities. We have to make sure we improve in that area.”
During a week of intensified debate over the merit of Port Adelaide’s presence in the SANFL, Hinkley said: “We’ve been good at developing our young players (in the SANFL). The challenge for us with the model we we have today comes when we are stretched with an injury, which makes the program more difficult to work on.
“And it’s because of the (recruitment) rules that we work with. We work with the rules that we have now.
“Simplistically, yes (it would be better if all 18 AFL clubs had the same reserve model).
“But we also have this incredible history in the SANFL. We are very respectful of that.”