Winx-like odds for Showdown
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley will arrive at Adelaide Oval for Saturday’s showdown with the Crows wary what a week of epic disruptions could do to his team’s cross-town rivals.
Preparations for the 50th clash between the two teams have rolled out in opposite directions this week.
Finals-bound Port are getting their best possible line-up together, with five-time Showdown medallist Robbie Gray the latest to return from injury to help Hinkley’s cause.
Meanwhile, the Crows have been engulfed in scandal, forced to stand down former captain Taylor Walker amid a racism storm that demanded he confront his teammates and apologise to his club.
The combination of such diverse weeks, as well as their standing at opposite ends of the AFL ladder, has ensured Port will start as prohibitive $1.10 TAB favourites to win, the hottest favourite to win a Showdown since the derbies began in 1997.
Port has also won the past three Showdowns by a combined 181 points, but Hinkley knows the biannual clashes are no ordinary games.
Port’s Charlie Dixon and Robbie Gray enjoy a Showdown win. Picture Sarah ReedSource:News Corp Australia
“I have coached a lot of Showdowns, I know the bookmakers get it wrong a lot of times,” Hinkley said on Friday.
“They don’t quite understand the Showdown.
“I can understand they are looking at form (Port Adelaide are fourth, Adelaide 16th), but Showdowns are really tough games – and we will need to be at our absolute best.”
The galvanising effect of the Walker scandal can’t be understated either.
“We all understand what some of these moments can do for a team,” Hinkley said.
”It can galvanise you. It can pull you together.
“When you haven’t got too much going on that can make you feel comfortable, you can still play football together – so we need to be ready for their absolute best.”
Hinkley said getting back Gray after a six-week absence with a knee injury was “exciting”and all part of his team building significant momentum with six wins from the past seven games, including three on the trot.
Port’s Travis Boak won the Showdown Medal in round 8. Picture: James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“It is part of what has been happening for us over the past two or three weeks – we are starting to get a number of our small forwards back in the team,” Hinkley said.
“Robbie is another one of them and he will certainly help us.”
Gray’s return meant a forward line reshuffle, and Todd Marshall was the man omitted.
But Hinkley stressed the squad mentality at Port was the key to them making a run deep into September.
“Todd has landed in an awkward position at the moment,” Hinkley said.
”We have a healthy squad. We have people back and you have to play really well to maintain your spot in the squad. Todd is aware of that and he will fight his way back.
“We said at the start of the year we needed our whole squad. We are close to having that full squad together. We can now look at the games we need to play players in – and what games we should be playing them in.
“It is a balance. There’s a few bits that go into it, and they will move around a bit.”
Port will take a 26-24 overall record with a fourth consecutive derby triumph and cement a place in the top four.
Source: Read Full Article