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'Make Polec your blueprint': Hinkley's message to Toumpas

Nathan Schmook  March 10, 2016 7:00 AM

AFL 2016 Portraits - Port Adelaide

Jimmy Toumpas has his sights set on a round one debut with Port Adelaide

The first phase didn't work out the way you'd like it to work, but that doesn't mean the next phase can't

WHEN Jimmy Toumpas arrived at Port Adelaide after three fruitless seasons with Melbourne, his new coach Ken Hinkley was careful to avoid the negatives.

The No.4 pick in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft, Toumpas had struggled to make his mark while others from his draft class, like Ollie Wines and Jake Stringer, passed the 50-game mark.

He reached a crossroad at the end of last season and in a four-club mega trade he landed back in his home state, greeted by a coach who saw plenty of upside in the 22-year-old.   

"Like anyone who has a kick in the bum, you try and make sure it doesn't happen again," Hinkley told  

"I spoke to him about the opportunity, not the negative stuff, and I told him 'this is the next phase of your football'.

"The first phase didn't work out the way you'd like it to work, but that doesn't mean the next phase can't. So attack it with that in mind, attack it with enthusiasm.

"He was a high draft pick and he's carried some expectation, but he's incredibly proud and he wants to show that pride for himself and his family." 

Toumpas has impressed in his first pre-season with the Power, improving his running capacity and body shape, with the challenge ahead of him now to transfer those improvements into matches. 

Hinkley said the blueprint for Toumpas to follow was available three lockers down at Alberton, after Jared Polec reinvigorated his career following three seasons with the Brisbane Lions. 

"If I was Jimmy, I'd say 'why did it work for 'Polly'?" Hinkley said

"They're different people, though; they're quite different characters. Polly is quite relaxed and Jimmy is quite intense in the way he goes about it.

"We're hoping it'll work for Jimmy, and if it doesn't work it won't be because he hasn't worked hard enough.

"His teammates would love to see him do well, because you like to see anyone get up off the ground." 

Toumpas last month told he had focused on improving his contested game this pre-season, completing one-on-one work with assistant coaches Michael Voss and Garry Hocking. 

"There were definitely things that didn't work out for me at Melbourne and I put my hand up and take responsibility for those things," he said. 

"You've got to put your head down and that's what I'm trying to do to get into that round one side."

Hinkley said the key to Toumpas playing would be proving he can be a "reliable player under pressure", a standard that applied to the whole Port Adelaide list in a season of high expectation.

Performing under pressure and rediscovering the team defence that took them to within a kick of the 2014 Grand Final shape as keys for Hinkley's men this year.

The coach has sought not to change his game plan, but instead refocus on what the team does best and master that. 

"Like Hawthorn have done for what seems like forever, they're able to master what it is they do and perhaps they don't have to do too much more," he said.

"We just need to master what it is we do. We've identified a couple of key areas this summer and just stayed in that space."