Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has one wish for his makeshift AFL ruckmen: to break even with their opponents.
Port enter Sunday’s home clash against Brisbane without a recognised ruckman – ex-Essendon tapman Paddy Ryder is suspended for the season and Matthew Lobbe is out for three months with a knee injury.
And Hinkley omitted novice ruckman Dougal Howard for the Adelaide Oval fixture against the Lions.
That leaves Port’s ruck duties with part-timers Justin Westhoff, Jackson Trengove and Charlie Dixon against Brisbane’s influential big man Stefan Martin.
“We will have three blokes that we will try and operate through there and share the load,” Hinkley said.
“From them, it’s to break-even is a point where we’d love to be able to get too.”
Port won against Richmond last Saturday night despite losing the hitouts 64 to 24 – a statistic which concerns the coach.
“That’s a significant disadvantage to any team,” Hinkley said.
“And if you look at the top eight, you will see that all bar one has got a pretty dominant ruckman in their side which in today’s game is significant.
“But we won’t let that stop us … we understand that there are some challenges but first of all we will go in with confidence that they can get the job done.
“We know that Westy and Jacko as pinch-hitters have been able to get the job done in the past, we know Charlie has played a lot of ruck in his time, he’s big enough, physical enough, to handle that stuff.
“But it is a challenge, there is no doubt about that. We have to make some smallish adjustments off that … some type of tinkering to our structure at ground level.”