It was only a small sample size but Charlie Dixon’s first game for Port Adelaide was enough to bring a broad smile to coach Ken Hinkley’s face.
After suffering a pre-season setback with a knee injury, the much-heralded recruit was finally let loose – playing the second half of the Power’s 48-point win against Richmond at Etihad Stadium.
The bustling key forward managed a modest seven possessions and three marks but provided an immediate physical presence inside attacking 50 for the club that parted with a first and second-round pick to secure him from the Gold Coast.
But perhaps the truest indication of his impact at Port was the way that he was swamped by his new teammates when he kicked his first goal for the club late in the game.
“The boys like him, I’ve got to tell you, the boys like him,” Hinkley said.
“We like him and there’s a lot about Charlie you like. He played ‘Port Adelaide’, didn’t he? When he came on the ground, what did you see? ‘Bash, crash, get out of my way or I’m going to run over the top of you’.
“‘If you get in my way I’m probably going to hurt you if I have to. My teammates matter and whatever I have to do for them, I’ll do it for them.'”
“I said to keep expectations down on Charlie before tonight. We just wanted him to get through the game. He’s pulled up really well, which is really important, but he does play the footy that Port people love.”
The win was the first of the Power’s NAB Challenge campaign but Hinkley was more pleased with the application of his charges than the end result.
The fact that the injury-ravaged Tigers fielded just 15 players at times late in the game mattered little.
“We were well on top, we were playing the football that we wanted, and yes Richmond had some issues … I can understand that they were doing what they needed to do for round one,” Hinkley said.
“But at that stage I thought we were playing (well). For most of the night I thought we were playing pretty consistent football. That’s what I’m pleased about – not Richmond and what they did or didn’t do.”