Ken Hinkley says Jack Watts will likely not play again this year, but Ryan Burton will be sped back into Port’s side to get AFL minutes ahead of finals. Picture Sarah Reed
Ken Hinkley says Jack Watts will likely not play again this year, but Ryan Burton will be sped back into Port’s side to get AFL minutes ahead of finals. Picture Sarah Reed

Hinkley not holding out hope on Watts

Jack Watts is unlikely to play footy at any level again this year, Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley says.

But Ryan Burton could give coaches a "tough" selection problem this week after making rapid strides in returning from a hamstring injury with Hinkley saying the club are desperate for him to get AFL minutes under his belt if the Power make finals.

Watts started running two weeks ago after badly breaking his leg and ankle against Carlton.

But Hinkley said it was unlikely the former No. 1 draft pick would play again this year.

 

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Jack Watts of Port Adelaide holds his ankle after a clash with Dale Thomas in Round 2. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images
Jack Watts of Port Adelaide holds his ankle after a clash with Dale Thomas in Round 2. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images

"I would not think (so)," he told SEN.

"I think Jack optimistically is trying and giving everything he can but there is still a fair bit for him to overcome.

"With the injury he said there would be a chance if there is a small setback of any type it would end his chance, so he would have to 100 per cent right (to return).

"So having gone through that injury with Charlie (Dixon) it doesn't normally work as smoothly as that.

"But we have everything crossed for Jack.

"And he is giving everything he can but I would be less than optimistic that he plays football again this year."

Jack Watts and Ryan Burton run laps at Alberton. Picture SARAH REED
Jack Watts and Ryan Burton run laps at Alberton. Picture SARAH REED

Burton is making a run at returning to Port's side for Saturday's game against North Melbourne in Melbourne, just weeks after injuring his hamstring against Brisbane.

"It's a tough one with Ryan," Hinkley said.

"The difficulty we have with Ryan is that we have the potential to have two rounds and hopefully a finals series to come and you need them to play some AFL football.

"So he is a really difficult one, there is no doubt that he makes us a better team so we are going to be a little bit pushy towards trying to get him in the side."

 

North Melbourne only managed to kick 14 points against Geelong last time out, but Hinkley said there would be a big reaction from the Roos.

"You can imagine after a loss like that, a first time coach (Rhyce Shaw) will be pushing some buttons to get a response," he said.

Tom Clurey, who has been in fine form in recent weeks, is set to start on the Roos' dangerous forward Ben Brown but Hinkley did not rule out Justin Westhoff - who has performed well in Port's backline since returning to the side - playing some role.

"The wildcard for us at the moment has been Westy," he said.

"Westie gives us some opportunity and flexibility (against Brown)."