BE BRAVE and be bold – that was the challenge set by coach Ken Hinkley to four-time Port Adelaide club champion Kane Cornes that has the veteran in the best form of his career.

On the eve of his 250th AFL game, the 30-year-old midfielder is averaging 31 disposals a match this year, more than in any season since he was drafted by the Power with pick 20 at the 2000 NAB AFL Draft.

It comes on the back of a stunning 2012 in which he took home his fourth John Cahill Medal as the club's best and fairest player, just a year after his place in the squad was in great doubt.

Many expected Cornes to be shown the door at the end of the 2011 season, when his disposal count dropped significantly and his influence in games fell with it.

Cornes said Hinkley quickly restored his confidence when appointed late last year and that the challenge to become even better was the best thing that could have happened to him.

"From the moment Ken came in he gave me a lot of confidence with my place in the side and it obviously helps when the team's winning," Cornes told

"He challenged me more so than any coach has ever challenged me before in terms of improving my game and the way he wants me to play … he coming in has been the best thing that's happened to me for a while.

"The way he wanted me to use the ball was a little bit different, he wanted me to be pretty brave with the ball and hit some kicks where in the past I probably wouldn't have.

"He just wanted me to bring a bit more of an attacking flair to my game and I think it's been paying off."

Cornes said the controversy and uncertainty that surrounded his place in the side in 2011 was caused by internal conflict within the club, largely brought on by the side's underperformance.

With new coach Mathew Primus at the helm, the Power finished second last on the ladder with just three wins.

Cornes was dropped from the side, ending a club-record streak of 174 consecutive games, early in the season and speculation raged afterwards that it would be his last year with the club.

He said that doubt would make his 250-game milestone sweeter.

"Over the course of a 13-year career you're bound to have one or two where your form's not as good as it has been, so I think 2011 was probably my turn.

"There was a little bit more to it than just a form slump, there was a bit going on at the footy club at the time and it was a pretty dark year.

"For me to still be playing here now and be coming up on 250 games is something I'm pretty proud of, and during that time I wasn't sure that it would've happened."

Harry Thring is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Harry.