Power turns to young pups to take on Dogs
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley opts for in-form youth rather than recall any of the four Power big guns who will stay in the SANFL as Matthew Broadbent makes a welcome return to Alberton.
This will keep Power big guns, club champions Patrick Ryder and Justin Westhoff, former Brisbane captain Tom Rockliff and rising star midfielder Sam Powell-Pepper in the SANFL to find form and confidence before claiming AFL recalls.
And in a promising sign at Alberton, experienced defender Matthew Broadbent has returned to training after taking time out for mental health issues. He - rather than the Power coaches - will determine when he is available for selection.
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley also has confirmed defender-midfielder Dan Houston is in better health than he was last week before taking on the major challenge of dealing with Geelong star midfielder Tim Kelly.
Hinkley's long-established preference to reward winning teams was sunk by the match review officer reports on utility Dougal Howard and midfielder-forward Karl Amon. Both accepted Michael Christian's one-match bans from video review.
Ladhams returns - ahead of Ryder - to replace Howard as a ruckman-forward working in tandem with ruckman Scott Lycett and key forward Charlie Dixon. It will be Ladhams' second AFL game after his encouraging debut against Hawthorn in Launceston a month ago.
Drew resumes - ahead of Rockliff or Powell-Pepper - for his first AFL game since his run of eight consecutive national-league matches ended with the Showdown loss to Adelaide.
Hinkley has stood true to his declaration on Saturday night - after the 11-point win against the league-leading Cats - that he would seek to select players on form and confidence rather than reputations.
"It is the right approach - to let them get some form and confidence (in the SANFL) rather than rush them in (to the AFL line-up)," Hinkley said.
"We could be sitting there on Saturday night hoping they would get a kick. That would not be certain.
"I'm sure they would all be trying their damn hardest. But there would be no guarantee ... so we would be back to same spot. It is best to get them back in form and build up their confidence."
Port Adelaide is compelled to complete it training program at Alberton Oval - rather than at Adelaide Oval - on Friday morning with an open captain's run starting at 9.45. The city venue was off limits to the AFL club to allow Adelaide Oval to be prepared for the return of the National Rugby League that will present a grand final rematch with the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm on Friday night - 24 hours before the AFL match.
Hinkley is confident the Adelaide Oval ground staff will have the surface "right to go" after its rugby league work-out.
Port Adelaide will be facing the Western Bulldogs for the fifth time at Adelaide Oval where the Power has a 3-1 win-loss advantage on the 'Dogs. The loss - by three points - was in the Bulldogs' 2016 premiership season.