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AFL premier on Port’s agenda: Hinkley

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Port Adelaide manager Ken Hinkley has boldly put an AFL premiership on his agenda, saying his confidence in his players hasn’t wavered despite the year’s final flop last.

Hinkley’s proteges play their first Test game on Friday against Gold Coast in Queensland, the Power’s first competitive outing since their preliminary disaster final.

Port was beaten by 71 points by the Western Bulldogs in a preliminary round at home last year.

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“You know what drives anyone who’s in the game, that’s the ultimate success,” Hinkley told reporters on Thursday.

“And that’s what drives me and this club.

“This club believes in the importance of winning premierships and we decided in 22 to win the premiership.”

Asked if he believed the Power fell far behind Melbourne Premiers last year and beat the grand runners-up, Hinkley Bulldogs replied: “I have complete faith in this group.”

Hinkley described his players as “upbeat and enthusiastic”.

“They’re ready to play and they’re going to 22,” he said.

“And we are very focused on today and making sure we do well today to give ourselves the best chance of succeeding in 22.

“It’s a very good group of young players, this team, and they are committed.

“They had a great pre-season.”

Hinkley will be without Orazia Fantasia for the start of the premiership season as the goalneak recovers from right knee surgery.

Fantasia are at least three weeks away from running again as Port’s premier season opener looms on March 19 against Brisbane.

Hinkley said Fantasia, after resuming racing, would then need another three or four weeks before they were fit to play.

But he was more optimistic about key forward Charlie Dixon recovering from ankle surgery in time for the season proper.

“Charlie is moving pretty well, he’ll probably run Friday – and if he runs Friday, that’s exactly where we expect him to be,” Hinkley said.

“That would put him back on track for the first round which we are optimistic about at this stage.

“Charlie, when he’s fit and ready…he’s a player we pick straight away without too much fear as long as he trains enough in his system.

“And right now he has three weeks of potential training that would prepare him.”