Coach Ken Hinkley says it’s folly to label Port Adelaide as AFL premiership contenders.
And Hinkley says it’s equally ludicrous to dub Saturday night’s top of the table clash against reigning premier Hawthorn as the champs against the challengers.
“It’s silly talk,” Hinkley told reporters in Adelaide on Friday.
Ladder leaders Port carry favouritism into the Adelaide Oval encounter against the injury-hit Hawks, perched in second spot.
But Hinkley says the growing hype around the Power is irrelevant.
“We’re okay, there’s no problems internally. We know how hard and how tough this competition is,” he said.
“Externally, we can’t control it.
“All we can do is know that internally we’re working as hard as we can from day to day to give ourselves the best chance to compete well in the next game we play.”
Hawthorn will be without game-breakers Cyril Rioli (hamstring) and Jarryd Roughead (suspended) and key backman Josh Gibson (shoulder), joining established stars including Sam Mitchell and Brian Lake on the sidelines.
But Hinkley remained wary of the Hawks, who summoned captain Luke Hodge, Liam Shiels and Brad Sewell among their inclusions.
“Their game plan is based around a style … not so much around the individual personnel,” Hinkley said.
“They’re a great side and they will come out and play really strong footy.
“When you look at the players they have brought in, they’re not too weakened.
“They will come and compete, that is why they have been on top for such a long time, they have got great depth.
“You just look at their team, their form, their ability over a consistent number of years … they’re just a great football club.
“We say publicly that we’re trying to become something along the lines of the Hawthorns, the Geelongs, the Sydneys of the world.
“We want to be that at some stage. But we have got miles to go.”
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson differed, describing Hinkley’s Power as being at a peak.
“The main thing is belief in their system and the confidence they’ve got playing with one another,” Clarkson told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.
“They are at the top of their game.
“They’ve got a full compliment of players available at the moment … they’re a really formidable side now.”