Port Adelaide senior coach Ken Hinkley has confirmed vice-captain Hamish Hartlett will make his return to AFL football this weekend against Fremantle at Optus Stadium.
Hartlett played the first game of the SANFL season after recovering from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament suffered at training in April last season, but tightness in his hamstring further delayed his return to the senior side.
The 28-year-old travelled to China with the Power as an emergency, but will make his long-awaited return against Fremantle on Saturday afternoon according to the senior coach.
“We’ve got Hamish (Hartlett) back this week at AFL level, which is really exciting and we can’t wait to get him back out there,” Hinkley said on Adelaide radio station FIVEaa.
“When you get your vice-captain - and someone who plays football the way you love it played - you just can’t wait to see him out there.”
With a number of injuries throughout the year, the Power coaching group have had to shuffle the magnets around a bit in 2019.
Against St Kilda, Dougal Howard was moved forward, while Dan Houston shifted into a midfield role in the absence of Tom Rockliff - a move that really pleased Hinkley.
“We have certainly had to be a little bit clever with some of our thinking, and we’ve done that successfully so far,” he said.
“I’ve loved what Dan (Houston) has done in one game in the midfield. Doogs (Dougal Howard) has looked threatening a couple of times in the front half.”
Port Adelaide had a nine-point loss to Fremantle in Perth last season, a loss that proved costly towards the business end of the year.
Hinkley said Ross Lyon-coached teams have been able to slow his side down in the past, and the 52-year-old is keen to see how the 2019 style of quicker ball movement will fare against Fremantle.
“We’ve played against them quite a bit and they’ve had the ability to slow us down,” Hinkley said.
“Last year we saw that first hand, later in the season where they were able to stop us, and probably it caused us the biggest bump in the road that stopped our momentum.
“Ross’s teams are always diligent in their defensive structures. They slow you down. They hold you up as best as they possibly can.
“We are playing a different style, and it will be interesting to see how we go against it again this year.”