Having earned the respect of the competition, Ken Hinkley expects Port Adelaide to again be serious contenders in 2015.
After coming up a gut-wrenching three points short against Hawthorn in an epic preliminary final, Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley believes his young team has earned the respect of the AFL.
He reckons the Power are well placed to contend again next year, especially as they will not shy away from the hard work needed.
But Port will still look to improve their list, as happened this year with the recruitment of speedsters Jared Polec from Brisbane and Matthew White from Richmond.
Likely to be on the wishlist is more ruck support for lion-hearted Matthew Lobbe, who went one out again on Saturday against Hawks duo David Hale and Jonathon Ceglar.
“I reckon Lobbs would have liked a rest at some stage,” admitted Hinkley.
“But what a season when you think about how much work he’s had to do.
“Every game bar one he’s had to ruck on his own – that’s courageous.”
Port Adelaide are one of three clubs – along with Brisbane and Greater Western Sydney – to have been linked to disgruntled Essendon ruck-forward Paddy Ryder.
The Power almost stole the preliminary final against Hawthorn, kicking the last four goals of the game with the breakneck attacking style that has become their trademark.
“If you want to watch footy that’s exciting and fun then come and watch Port Adelaide because we won’t stop that, we’ll keep playing that,” said the coach.
“I’ve got a great belief in the way the game should be played and the players believe in it too, the whole club believes in it.
“… you should be able to play brave, consistent, tough and ruthless football and that’s what Port Adelaide looked like for most of the season.”
Port’s reputation as the best last-quarter team in the competition was only enhanced on Saturday night.
Much of the credit has gone to fitness guru Darren Burgess – with Hinkley also lauding the players for buying in whole-heartedly to what was required.
“We all know they’ll come back to work,” he said.
“We’ve just had a debrief inside, it’s not the right time to debrief it too much but they know that the challenge is now back fair and square in their hands about how hard they’re going to work.
“Because as I said last year, if you don’t work harder and harder than you did the year before then you will slip up and lose ground.
“This competition is incredibly tight and incredibly tough and you’ve got to stay in it for every second.”