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Hinkley confident Port is up to speed

Written By malwan milad on Selasa, 07 Januari 2014 | 18.35

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."

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SuperFooty 2014 AFL predictions

THE NAB Challenge is just 36 days away and we're into the New Year. Time to shelve the countdowns and look to the future as we make 10 bold predictions about the 2014 AFL season. And yes, there's even some SuperCoach advice at the end.

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Heat is on the Lions

CLUBS down south travel the globe in search of it, but new Lions boss Justin Leppitsch says having Queensland's sticky weather in his backyard provides the perfect leg-up to his senior coaching career.

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McKenna denies forward rest for Ablett

The truth about meditation

The truth about meditation

WE HOPE learning to meditate wasn't one of your new year's resolutions. A study has found that there is little to no evidence of mindfulness meditation's impact on positive mood, attention, substance use, eating habits, sleep and weight.

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Reid returns to the Bombers

Essendon doctor Bruce Reid leaves AFL House last year. Source: News Limited

ESSENDON doctor Bruce Reid is back at work after a three-month leave period that followed the AFL's dismissal of misconduct charges against him over the supplements saga.

The league dropped charges against Reid in September after he applied to the Supreme Court to have his case heard by a body independent of the AFL Commission.



The commission had earlier dealt penalties to the club and three other officials - coach James Hird, assistant coach Mark Thompson and football boss Danny Corcoran - for governance failings related to the 2012 supplements program.

A joint statement between Reid and the league that said "Dr Reid will take leave and will return to the club in January 2014" prompted reports that Reid's leave was an informal punishment.

Asked on radio if that was the case, AFL boss Andrew Demetriou said at the time: "You can interpret that any way you want".

In December, Essendon announced Corcoran would not return to the club while Hird remains suspended until late August. Thompson is coaching the side in his absence.

Getting back to business yesterday, Reid told the club's website that star midfielder Brendon Goddard would likely resume full training next week as he recovered from a calf strain.

"He is now running really well at top speed and he is at four and a half weeks (since the injury) so he will be in full training after six weeks," Reid said

"All of the list will be in full training, there is a couple of shoulder reconstruction's from the off-season that we will keep out of full contact.

"The important thing is they are all out on the track, there is no one now that is not back in full training."

"We are very happy with our injury situation at the moment as we were last year at the same time of year."

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Cats to give no more quarter

Written By malwan milad on Senin, 09 Desember 2013 | 18.35

Mathew Stokes admits the Cats "probably" switched off with the game in their control late in the third term. Picture: Mike Dugdale Source: Geelong Advertiser

MATHEW Stokes says Geelong's capitulation to the Brisbane Lions was unacceptable and every player must take responsibility for his part in Sunday's final quarter debacle.

The Cats led by 52 points before the Lions stormed home in the dramatic final term to record the equal-eighth greatest comeback in league history.

Stokes admitted the Cats "probably" switched off with the game in their control late in the third term and said the players were stunned, shocked and hurting.

He conceded they could no longer sweep their poor form "under the rug", but backed the character of the players to respond for blockbuster games against Fremantle and Hawthorn.

"We've forged a reputation over a number of years now, nearly from when I first got here (2006), that (these performances are) just not acceptable," Stokes said.

"I think every player who played (on Sunday) has to take responsibility for it and I think we will. The good thing about our group is we win together but we also lose together.

"We don't point at each other and say, 'It's your fault, it's his fault, it's this area's fault'. It's a team loss, but it was a really bad loss.

"We got overrun by a team with a lot of enthusiasm and we didn't stand up when we needed to."

Stokes admitted the Cats made bad decisions.

"I think there were periods in the game where we could have slowed the game down a lot," he said.

"We made some really poor decisions out there, as a group, not individually..

"To lose to a team not in the eight, in a game we're expected to win, when you're up by that many points at halftime and come away with a loss, is extremely hard to take and disappointing."

It was the biggest comeback in Brisbane's history and Geelong's worst capitulation since it surrendered a 54-point lead against West Coast in 2006.

Even though the Cats have been prone to inconsistency this year, they have been able to get themselves out of most situations.

"We've been struggling to play our best for a few weeks now," Stokes said.

"It's going to be a massive task next week (against Fremantle). We struggled badly in the second half and it needs to be rectified and worked on quickly because we've got ourselves into a really good position (10-2) and to have that performance is not on and something that, as players, we're not going to accept."


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Crows tinker with secret tricks

Richard Douglas admits the Crows need to win at least seven from their remaining 10 home-and-away games to qualify for finals. Picture: Sarah Reed Source: The Advertiser

ADELAIDE players returned from their mid-season break yesterday further behind in their chase for an AFL finals berth - and with much to learn with changes in their playbook.

It will take until Saturday's re-start against Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium to see how coach Brenton Sanderson's rethink on the Adelaide game plan will manifest as a circuit-breaker against a three-game losing streak.

In the meantime, secrecy was the order of a farcical morning at West Lakes that might have reflected the pressure that increased on the 11th-ranked Crows (5-7) at the weekend.

They have moved from four to eight premiership points from a place in the AFL top eight.

A publicly declared open training session on Max Basheer Reserve at West Lakes was moved to an equally chopped up Thebarton Oval.

The reason for the move, according to Crows officials, was safety issues on Adelaide's regular training ground outside AAMI Stadium.

Yet, the surface was still safe for some Crows - such as young midfielder Brad Crouch, veteran Graham Johncock and in-form SANFL player Richard Tambling - to practise their craft.

Not only was there a change of venue but a rethink on training session status. It went from "open" to "closed" with two media outlets not only asked to leave Thebarton Oval but directed to stop filming despite being on public property.

Adelaide midfielder Richard Douglas may have been playing down how much change the Crows are being asked to embrace but he was not denying his team will be playing to a different theme.

"With tactical skills, we always have a closed session - as we did today," he said.

The Gold Coast scouts shut out of Adelaide's workouts this week can only report to Suns coach Guy McKenna the obvious. The Crows have recognised they have to rethink defence.

"We think we are playing some good footy (to attack) but the defensive side of the game has to improve a bit," said Douglas. "Hopefully, this week you will see much more pressure on the ball carrier and some stronger tackles.

"We'll tinker with a few little things. You will see that at the weekend.

"Nothing too major."

To qualify for consecutive finals series Adelaide needs at least seven wins from its remaining 10 home-and-away games - against the Suns, West Coast (home), Collingwood, Geelong (home), Fremantle, Port Adelaide (home), North Melbourne (home), the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne (home) and West Coast.

"We have to win seven of the next 10. We believe we're a chance," said Douglas.

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No gift farewell game for Johncock

Setback: Brenton Sanderson has revealed Graham Johncock has suffered a recurrence of his long-standing back injury. Picture: Sarah Reed. Source: Sunday Mail (SA)

CROWS veteran Graham Johncock will not be handed a farewell game - and the fan favourite does not want his last game at Adelaide to be a gift.

Crows coach Brenton Sanderson last night declared he will not recall 227-game Johncock simply to allow the converted defender to take a bow before the Adelaide supporters.

"I don't like farewell games - and I'm not going to give players a (free) game," said Sanderson in his a mid-term report with FIVEaa last night.

"And Graham said to me today `don't give me a game'. He wants to earn his spot."

But Johncock - who has not played in the AFL since the round three Showdown against Port Adelaide - still appears far from an AFL recall for his third game of the season.

Sanderson last night revealed Johncock, 30, has suffered a recurrence of his long-standing back injury.

"Physically," Sanderson said of Johncock, "he can't meet the demands of the AFL game.

"We need him at his best to contribute.

"Graham still has a big role to play. It's up to me to keep him motivated and engaged in the group because he is an important player for us."

Sanderson last night finally conceded his club's new fitness program - after losing long-standing fitness coach Stephen Schwerdt to Gold Coast - had failed to maintain standards.

"Externally, the Crows always have been seen as super fit but this year we had an emphasis on being stronger, for finals," said Sanderson, whose 11th-ranked team may not qualify for September.

"It is an area we need to get better at ... we need to run out games better."

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Moored in misery

Fremantle Dockers coach Ross Lyon issues instructions. Picture: Daniel Wilkins Source: Sunday Mail (SA)

THE man who preaches defence more than any other in football had to employ it when he was announced as the new coach of Fremantle.

It was September, 2011, and the Perth media was fuming at the injustice of the sudden sacking of Mark Harvey.

Ross Lyon walked into a press conference fire pit.

The first question was: "Ross, do you feel you've stabbed Mark Harvey in the back?" They kept coming.

"Has your reputation been tarnished?"

"How hard is it to arrive at a club where the members and fans don't really like you?"

"How can you honestly say you've been loyal and held integrity with St Kilda ... ?"

Lyon remained ice-cold. Unfazed, his poker-face was never close to cracking.

The resolve he displayed in the face of a baying media pack some 21 months ago has rubbed off on his players with admirable success.

Like their coach, the Dockers' defence has been close to impregnable.

In clashes with Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and North Melbourne, Fremantle has conceded only 43.5 points per game. The Bombers of 1989 are the only side since 1966 with such a points-against profile in a four-week block.

After a shaky start to Lyon's debut season, the Dockers' suffocation techniques are now sending shockwaves through the competition.

Thirteen rounds into the season, they are conceding 66.5 points a game - 10.1 fewer than any rival. They allow opponents to go inside 50m only 43.4 times a game - 2.8 fewer than any other side.

What former Melbourne coach Mark Neeld declared in his first press conference is a reality out west - Fremantle is the hardest team to play against.

Sides who win the ball behind centre in games against the Dockers face a monumental task just to advance up the ground.

From Rounds 9-13, the Dockers have allowed rival teams to execute a chain of possession from defensive 50m to forward 50m only 11.9 per cent of time, ranked No.1 in the competition.

From defensive midfield to inside 50m, it's a paltry 21.1 per cent - ranked No.1 - and from a centre clearance to inside 50m, it's 44.1 per cent, again ranked first. To put the latter stat into perspective, Geelong is the next best at 60 per cent.

It's a road trip to face the Cats - winners of 43 of their last 45 games at home - that presents the greatest challenge to Lyon's pressure pack. But after this weekend the Dockers face a dream run home; the second easiest according to Champion Data. A top-two berth is probable rather than possible and that means two home finals.

The fact All-Australian pair Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands are still to return only adds to the ominous look about the purple haze.

Among the loaded questions and accusations at that first press conference, Lyon remarked: "It's about possibility. You can be what you want to be."

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Final Demon pillar topples

Tim Harrington is leaving the Dees. Picture: Michael Klein

MELBOURNE'S administrative overhaul has now claimed every position of power at the club, after list manager Tim Harrington was made redundant.

The Herald Sun understands Harrington was told of the decision yesterday, coinciding with an internal announcement that the position of football manager Josh Mahoney would be publicly advertised.

Harrington will be the fall guy for many of last year's controversial recruits, including David Rodan, Shannon Byrnes and Tom Gillies, although he was overruled on some of those by then coach Mark Neeld.

Coaching legend David Parkin often talks about the five pillars of a football club, including the coach, president, chief executive and the recruiter.

Since April 9, chief executive Cameron Schwab has been sacked, president Don McLardy has stood down, Neeld has been sacked and Mahoney told he will have to apply for the new head of football position.

Recruiter Jason Taylor is under pressure and former North Melbourne official Harrington will leave immediately.

He was on staff rather than a long-term contract, so the decision will not force the club into another costly exit after the $600,000 Neeld payout.

Harrington, who was elevated from football manager to list manager at North in 2007, crossed to Melbourne in 2009.

But, while there have been some value picks, the Demons have been condemned for not developing youngsters and wasting high picks on players who did not deserve that status.

They also paid huge sums for key forwards Mitch Clark and Chris Dawes, with both injury-prone since arriving.

Former Cat Byrnes was able to secure a two-year deal and battling former North Melbourne defender Cameron Pedersen has a three-year deal.

Melbourne chief executive Peter Jackson confirmed Harrington's departure last night. "Tim's departure is not performance related. It reflects the need to reduce the overall cost of the structure," he said.

"Tim has worked diligently in his role for more than four years at the club, and I'm certain he will find another productive role in the AFL industry."

Jackson has already foreshadowed a new head of football position, with Mahoney virtually no chance of filling that role.

Jackson confirmed on Saturday he had approached several big names to fill the head of football role.

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