Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley is confident prized recruit Paddy Ryder will get better with time – especially once Matthew Lobbe returns.
Ryder battled manfully in his Power debut, but was ultimately outgunned by Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands in Sunday’s seven-point AFL loss to the Dockers.
Lobbe was a late withdrawal because of quad tightness, leaving Ryder to shoulder a large burden against the league’s best ruckman.
The 27-year-old former Bomber finished with 12 possessions, 20 hit-outs, and seven tackles in a promising performance.
His efforts were all the more notable considering he didn’t play a single pre-season game while he awaited the outcome of the AFL’s Anti-Doping Tribunal in ASADA’s case against 34 past and present Bombers players.
Lobbe is set to return for Saturday night’s home clash with Sydney, and Hinkley is expecting plenty more good things from Ryder as the season progresses.
“He was pretty solid first up,” Hinkley said.
“He hasn’t had the best preparation unfortunately. But I thought even late in the game he was getting over the top of them.
“We know there is some significant upside for us with Paddy, and then when we get Lobbes into the side it will certainly help us.”
The Power went blow for blow with the Dockers, but Hinkley said his side’s inability to handle the in-and-under pressure at crucial times proved costly.
“We like to be able to handle the heat inside. Against the Dockers, we didn’t quite handle the pressure as much as we needed to.”
Port take on Sydney, North Melbourne, Hawthorn, and Adelaide over the next month, but Hinkley is embracing the tough draw rather than quaking in his boots.
“You can look at the draw and say, ‘That’s challenging’. Or you can look at the draw and say, ‘That’s fantastic, that’s preparation we really want to get better at’,” Hinkley said.
“At some stage if you’re eventually going to make the climb, you’ve got to be able to win those games.
“We acknowledge that and aren’t frightened to talk about that.”