Port coach won’t reopen old AFL wounds

While the pain still lingers, Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley won’t reopen old wounds ahead of Saturday night’s AFL blockbuster against Hawthorn.

The Hawks pipped Port by three points in a preliminary final last year, a result Hinkley refuses to mention to his players in the lead-up to the Adelaide Oval re-match.

“It doesn’t get you anywhere. It doesn’t change a thing,” Hinkley told reporters on Friday.

“It’s not the thoughts you want to have.

“There’s no doubt, and that is the key thing for us, in our finals performances last year we make sure we learn from each of them.

“And the last one, where you get your hardest lesson, you have got to be prepared to learn from it.

“But you just don’t go back. Football, everyone talks about it’s going to be motivation – it’s going to be nothing to do with it once the ball bounces.”

Port have summoned lead ruckman Matthew Lobbe for his first game this season, having recovered from a thigh injury.

Hinkley is adamant he’s not taking a risk by recalling Lobbe without any competitive match as a lead-in.

“We know how important Lobbe is to us, we weren’t going to take the risk because of it being a long season,” he said.

“We just needed to make sure with the thigh that we got him right. Right now, we’re pretty comfortable that he’s right.”

Hinkley said Hawthorn remain the benchmark despite early claims to the title from Fremantle and Sydney – two clubs Port has already played, and lost.

“I don’t think there’s too much doubt about that,” he said of Hawthorn’s status.

“Not much has changed in the first three or four weeks – Freo, Sydney, Hawthorn, they’re three talented sides.

“The competition is still what it was last year and it tends to be like that, I reckon, at the start of the next season a little bit.

“You still have to be careful not to get too carried away with what happens in the first three or four weeks of the season.

“Let the season settle itself down… after eight to 12 weeks you start to get an idea of where things are at.”

Port’s All Australian utility Robbie Gray is a late withdrawal from the match because of a calf injury.

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