After a rocky road, Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley reckons his AFL side is turning the corner.
Hinkley’s Port host the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night, seeking consecutive wins to square their win-loss ledger.
“We have to keep taking steps forward … I don’t think we’re too far away,” Hinkley told reporters on Friday.
Port returned to the winner’s list last weekend after three consecutive losses, a streak which had some pundits jumping from pre-season predictions of the Power being a premiership contender.
But Hinkley has kept that vision alive.
“I felt like we were building a little bit in the right direction … we still didn’t play four strong quarters of football last week, we’re still a little way off where we need to be,” he said.
“But we’re working really hard to gain that momentum.”
Port demoted Nathan Krakouer to the rookie list, replacing him in the side for the Bulldogs match with midfielder Aaron Young.
The emerging Dogs enter the Adelaide Oval in ninth spot with five wins and four wins, but Hinkley isn’t surprised at their promising form.
“The competition not so much surprises the people involved in it, it surprises the rest,” he said.
“You have got not just the Bulldogs, you have West Coast, the Giants – there’s a couple of emerging teams and certainly the Bulldogs are one of them.
“”We have seem their best is very, very good.
“They’re an incredibly well-drilled side. They have got some real speed about their team and Bobby Murphy leads them incredibly well.
“They’re an exciting team and we will need to be at our best.”
The fixture is Port onballer Hamish Hartlett’s 100th AFL game, a milestone in an injury-troubled career which began in 2009.
“His first couple of years with the (injury) disruptions, I’m sure there were some doubts in his own mind about whether 100 games were going to come along,” Hinkley said.
“Right now, he’s in really strong physical condition and form and hopefully there’s another 100 to come.”