Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley knows his way around a form guide.
And he’s well aware the struggling Adelaide Power could go into Saturday’s AFL clash as the biggest underdogs in Showdown history when they take on the third-placed Crows, whose performances in recent weeks have been nothing short of menacing.
But Hinkley, a self-confessed punter who races greyhounds in his spare time, reckons it’s not always wise to back favourites, pointing to Australia’s underwhelming performance at the Rio Olympics.
“Roughies get up,” he said on Friday at the traditional pre-Showdown press conference with Crows coach Don Pyke.
“It’s not unusual. We’ve seen that just recently in the Olympic Games, I reckon.
“Things don’t always go to plan.
“I’m sure Don and the boys are hoping it goes to plan. We’re going to do everything we can to disrupt that.”
An upset win for 11th-placed Port would bring some much-needed cheer to supporters after a season in which they have badly underperformed, last weekend’s 40-point home loss to Melbourne which extinguished their slim finals chances, a case in point.
Port will line up without star forward Chad Wingard (hamstring), Hamish Hartlett (calf) and Billy Frampton (groin), who have all been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Spearhead Charlie Dixon will also miss as the side manages an ongoing ankle injury but remains a chance for the Power’s final game against Gold Coast.
Jake Neade and Jimmy Toumpas return, as will veteran forward Jay Schulz for what Hinkley admits could be the 31-year-old’s final game at Adelaide Oval.
“He may look back on this game and say that was his last game,” Hinkley said.
“I hope that’s not the case.
“It’s still a list management decision that we won’t enter into until the end of the season.”
Adelaide are firming as premiership contenders, having boosted their percentage with thumping recent wins against Fremantle, Brisbane and Essendon.
Pyke said the Crows had earned their favouritism for the Showdown and denied his players were underprepared after winning their past three by a combined 292 points.
“Every game of AFL footy’s hard, that’s the thing,” Pyke said.
“The results in the last few weeks suggest we’ve had an easier run but I can guarantee you at times in all three of those games, we’ve been challenged, we’ve had to learn some things and we’ve had to adapt to play the way we want to play.”
The Crows have recalled 203cm ruckman Sam Jacobs after he missed two games with an ankle complaint, with impressive rookie Reilly O’Brien omitted.