Coach Ken Hinkley says he’s worried at Port Adelaide’s failure to beat a top-eight side this AFL season.
And Hinkley openly admits to lingering questions about Port’s top-eight credentials ahead of Saturday’s home game against fourth-placed Western Bulldogs.
“We have some questions, there’s no doubt about that,” Hinkley told reporters on Friday.
“We look at it in the reality. And the reality suggests to us that we have still got to be proven at this (top-eight) level and we have still got to take that opportunity to prove ourselves.
“There’s some questions there. I’m really confident the boys have got the ability to answer those questions the right way. But we have still got to do it.”
With ninth-placed Port (six wins, five losses) a win outside the top eight, Hinkley said Saturday’s Adelaide Oval fixture was of vital importance.
“There’s no hiding from the fact that it’s a big game for us,” he said.
“It’s not so much the statement of beating the Doggies, for us it’s the building of belief in what we’re trying to achieve.
“In the past couple of weeks we have been able to pass the test but this is another step up again.
“But our plan is to be a part of the best teams in the competition and to do that you have got to beat them.”
Hinkley said he was mindful of the magnitude of the challenge to crack the Bulldogs’ defence, which has conceded the least scores of any club this season.
“They are the most connected team, I think, as far as defence goes in the competition thus far in the season … when one part moves they all move and that is when you know you’re in good shape,” he said.
Port named an unchanged side while the Dogs replaced Toby McLean (foot) with Mitch Honeychurch.