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Port Adelaide punt on Burton in AFL final

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30th September, 2020
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Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley is punting on injury-prone defender Ryan Burton in Thursday night’s AFL qualifying final against Geelong.

Burton will play his first game since suffering a thigh injury in Round 16 in the final series opener against the Cats, who have dumped high-profile recruit Jack Stevens.

Geelong also axed Esava Ratugolea, with Rhys Stanley and Tom Atkins recalled for the Adelaide Oval fixture.

Port’s Burton has been summoned along with Tom Clurey, who has overcome a hamstring strain, and Zak Butters, who has served a two-game suspension.

The trio replace Jarrod Lienert, Riley Bonner and Boyd Woodcock.

Halfback Burton has managed just six games this season amid a spate of soft tissue injuries and coach Hinkley concedes there’s some risk in his selection.

“There is always risk when you bring people back in that have had some recent injuries,” Hinkley told reporters on Wednesday.

“But there’s always a risk with any player.

“If they’re a part of your best team … you put them in the side.

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“If Ryan gets through training today … we are really strong in the belief he does makes us better.”

Key defender Clurey had a torrid time when pitted against Geelong’s Tom Hawkins in Round 12 when the forward booted six goals in his side’s 60-point thrashing of the Power.

But Hinkley hasn’t dwelled on that result, noting the Power haven’t lost a game since.

“We’re in really good form … we learnt a lot from the game we played against Geelong,” he said.

“We are playing here at Adelaide Oval – we have got some things in our favour that perhaps weren’t in our favour last time.

“That still won’t make it easy … it (home ground advantage) is a real bonus but it’s an earnt bonus.

“But we’re playing against a side who don’t really worry about the environment too much.”

Port earned hosting rights by finishing top – a position the club held for the entire home-and-away season.

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“It certainly gives you confidence that over the whole season we have earnt the right to be on top,” Hinkley said.

“Our team has been a really consistent team right through this season … we’re in a pretty good space and we have built to play finals footy.

“So far, I’m really proud of what the boys have been able to do … we’re really good team, we’re a strong team, we’re very capable.”

© AAP