Port coach hopes Eagles doubt themselves

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley hopes West Coast’s poor away record is causing doubt in the Eagles camp.

But Hinkley says Port expect to face Eagles at their best in Saturday’s AFL match at Adelaide Oval.

West Coast haven’t won in three away games this season, and have lost their past six road trips.

“We hope that we can put some doubt in their mind,” Hinkley told reporters on Friday.

“Clearly with all the speculation about that (away record) they’re spending a bit of time on what they’re needing to do to improve.

” … But for us we have got to look at their best football and we have got to combat their best football. Whether that’s here in Adelaide or back in Perth, we have got to expect their best.”

Hinkley cleared dynamic utility Robbie Gray to return from a three-match absence because of a hamstring strain after Port’s light match-eve training session.

The All Australian replaces dropped midfielder Brendan Ah Chee for the clash against the seventh-placed Eagles, who kept the same side that thumped St Kilda by 103 points last start.

Hinkley said Port, in 10th spot with four wins and four losses, had “significant room to improve” in their inconsistent season.

“We’re around the mark with the stuff that we’re doing … (but) you don’t win often in AFL football unless you play four quarters,” he said.

Port will rely on makeshift ruckman Jackson Trengove to counter West Coast’s influential Nic Naitanui in what looms as a mismatch.

But Hinkley said there was “not that big a gap” between Naitanui and Trengove, a key defender forced into the ruck because of injury to first-choice tap-man Matthew Lobbe and the suspension of Paddy Ryder.

“Jacko has got to be really combative and that is the way he plays his best, and that is what we expect of him again tomorrow,” Hinkley said.

“Nic Naitanui is a talented ruckman but he can be beaten. And we go into the game expecting to beat him.”

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