Chad Wingard, Jarman Impey and Campbell Heath lead Port Adelaide in a running drill. Source: News Limited
PORT Adelaide is confident it has made up the head-start given to its rivals after last year's finals appearance forced a delayed start to pre-season.
Coach Ken Hinkley said yesterday's impressive 3km time-trial times were "confirmation" his players were determined not to let their work ethic drop off, and their December training camp to Dubai was a success.
BEST 22s: Port aims higher, Crows bounce back
"It's confirmation that physically we're in good shape and we now give ourselves a chance to really attack January knowing we've got some miles in our legs. The camp to Dubai and all those things have been really positive because we're getting times as good as we were getting last year, and in a lot of cases better," he said.
"That was the importance of Dubai for us, we physically knew we went there to try to catch up a little bit of ground."
But despite the delayed start to summer, Hinkley said his players must still improve on last year's fitness levels.
"We know we're 12 months advanced, so to say we're going to catch up - if we run the same times we ran last year we probably haven't caught up anything," he said.
Port Adelaide resume full training at the University oval. Kane Cornes (centre) showing the way in the time trial. Picture: Sarah Reed Source: News Limited
"We need to make sure we improve and our times today suggest we've improved in our running ability, so that puts us in a positive for the start of January.
Speaking yesterday as training resumed after the Christmas break, Hinkley:
PRAISED the performance of Jake Neade, who won the first of two waves in yesterday's time trial.
CONFIRMED he would stick with his defence-first mantra in 2014.
"I said last year 'as long as we set up really strong defensively, restrict sides, our brave use of the ball going forward will give us a chance in every game we play in'."
DESCRIBED Brisbane recruit Jared Polec's effort in slicing more than one minute off his previous time around the course as "outstanding".
"I think some people thought we were joking when we said he was crook on the first day (of pre-season) but he actually was crook. He'd had tonselitistonsillitis, so to make up a significant amount of time, that's impressive, but he also did have some health issues that were holding him back.
"He's embraced the training methods we want to enforce at Port Adelaide and really had a crack at them.
"He's fit and that's not a reflection of where he's come from or anything, it's a reflection that he's physically in good shape for the first time in three years and that gives him a chance to complete more sessions, and when you complete more sessions you get better times, it's a simple message."