Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has warned the absence of key forwards Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett won’t stop Sydney posing a major threat to a Power side seeking to kickstart their stuttering AFL campaign.
Port are languishing in 12th spot with a 5-7 record, two wins outside the top eight, but have fared better on the personnel front this week than Sydney.
Third-placed Sydney will be without suspended forwards Franklin and Tippett, with swingman Sam Reid tipped to move forward.
Conversely, Port welcome back ruckman Pat Ryder from an Achilles injury that has kept him out of four games, while Sydney hope to have their first-choice ruckman Mike Pyke back from a knee issue.
Port forward and reigning best and fairest Robbie Gray has recovered from a bout of concussion he suffered before the bye.
Hinkley was quick to dismiss the proposition Sydney would be easier to beat without Franklin and Tippett.
“If you look at the numbers, Sydney played without `Buddy’ (Franklin) three times last year, won two and lost one by three points against Richmond,” Hinkley said.
“Their form with or without Buddy, they are a very very good football club and they’re led incredibly well.
“They are not Buddy or Kurt Tippett away from being a good side.”
Sydney thrashed Port in Adelaide by 48 points back in round two, when Franklin and Tippett combined for 4.1 of Sydney’s score of 14.8 and Hinkley’s team kicked just 6.8.
“We have to absolutely learn from that game against them. They took us to the cleaners a little bit in that game with their defensive pressure, they were all over us,” Hinkley said.
He cited hardness around the ball and a determination for players to work for each other as keys for Port to lift in the second half of their campaign.
Sydney are coming off an 18-point home loss to Richmond and another defeat could see them drop to fourth below the winner of the Collingwood-Hawthorn game.
“It’s going to be a huge game for both teams. They (Port) are fighting for a spot in the finals and we’re trying to stay in the top four,” Swans’ co-captain Jarrad McVeigh said.
He wasn’t unhappy about a six-day turnaround for his side.
“We’re happy to play again straight away because we lost and we want to get back on the winners’ board,” McVeigh said.
“They (Port) are rested and ready to go and that’s fine.
“When the ball is bounced it doesn’t really matter who has had more of a break, it’s more about what we want to bring and what we want to stand for as a team.”