FIRST it was the busted shoulder while water skiing. Then it was a broken leg. Then a broken thumb. Then, to top off Ollie Wines' 2019, he lost the co-captaincy at Port Adelaide after a single season in the role.

But if last year was the nadir of Wines' AFL career, 2020 is its rebirth.

With Port Adelaide soaring to the top of the ladder, Wines is back to his best, with last week's dominant 30-disposal, two-goal and seven-clearance performance against North Melbourne the latest in a run of commanding performances.

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Is it as good as he's ever played across his 154-game and eight-year stint with the Power?

"It's close to," Wines told this week.

"The standout games I've had have been up there with my best games of my career, it's just consistently getting them going from week to week.

"Not having lulls here and there and trying to do that every week is incredibly tough because there's a proven opposition you've got to come up against and they're going to be good. But I'm just trying to do that more week to week."

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There's no secret behind the 25-year-old's form uptick. Wines has thrown himself into the meditation and mindfulness program embraced by Port this season, but the reason behind his return to his bullocking, powerful best is simple: continuity.

After a delayed started last season, Wines played only 12 games in two separated blocks.

"The role I play is pretty hard to walk in and play straight up," he said.

"You have to have a fair feel for the game and there's so much running from contests and trying to gather possessions from contests, so you have to know what's going on in the game and I don't think I got enough continuity in stringing games together," he said.

"[Last year] was incredibly tough."

Ollie Wines and his Port teammates leave the field after a loss to North Melbourne in round 22, 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

Wines could have been forgiven for thinking he was set for the same run this year when he required shoulder surgery in February after a training incident.

It was his other arm and, as he admitted, at least he was playing footy this time he injured it, but it still ruined his preparation for the year.

Wines missed round one and would likely have been unavailable until about round six had the season gone ahead as scheduled. But the COVID-19 shutdown gave him extra time to be ready for the season resumption in June.

ROUNDS 17-18 Check out the full fixture

Wines was fit and available to take on Adelaide in round two of the restarted campaign, but was hit with a one-game suspension for breaking the AFL's protocols by having a television news crew interview him at his house ahead of the game.

"It was interesting because in the government's eye and under the law I hadn't done anything wrong but obviously everyone was getting used to the protocols. It was frustrating. I wasn't worried for myself, it was more distracting the boys from the game they had on the weekend," he said.

Wines need not have been concerned about Port, who beat Adelaide by 75 points that week and have led the competition this season by claiming 12 wins.

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There has been another difference to last year for Wines, who had one season as Port's co-captain before the club decided to revert back to its customary one-man role with Tom Jonas taking on the sole position in 2020. Wines doesn't look back in anger about the change.

"I think we've handled it really well. We gave it a go at the time because it was the best thing for the club and unfortunately it didn't work results wise and this year we listened to our members and listened to our football club and we went back to the traditional one captain," he said.

Wines, now a vice captain alongside Hamish Hartlett, has watched Jonas' personal transformation – "He used to be almost a 'tough guy Tommy' but now he's got the ability to wrap the arm around guys," he said – and would be keen to return to the captain's job in the future.

"I only want success like everyone else at this football club and if I am the right person to lead this club it would be an honour," he said.

"At the moment I am more than proud to stand next to Tommy and Hamish as well and go to war with the boys each week, but if the opportunity comes again I'd be only so happy to take it. I had the one year in it and it was the proudest year of my football career."

Wines' future is something of much discussion. He is contracted to Port until the end of 2022, but was last year linked to a move to Carlton, while Essendon has also previously courted the big-bodied midfielder.

He understands the conjecture of being a Victorian playing in South Australia, but says he isn't sure if he will look to finish his career closer to his family.

"I don't think there's many guys in my situation who wouldn't get your name thrown up every now and then. But I've got two years on a deal at the moment and I'm so happy here. The list is so set, we're so excited with the people we've got signed on. I'm loving my time here," he said.

"I go through ups and downs like anyone. At times I'd love to be in Victoria, but at other times I know that the best chance I've got at having some success in my football career (is here). And if it's a little bit of short-term pain in terms of living away from my family and not seeing them as much as I'd like well I'm going to sacrifice that for success.

"A football career's life is so short and you see guys not have success or win Grand Finals throughout their careers and I don't want to be one of those. I want to chase success wherever that is and at the moment it's in Adelaide. We're so set and we've got this list together, so I think that's my best bet."

Ollie Wines and Hamish Hartlett celebrate a win over GWS in round six. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Wines sees this year as the best chance of his career. Having played finals in his first two seasons at Port, and then again in 2017, he rates Port Adelaide of 2020 as the best balanced side of his career.

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Coach Ken Hinkley put the competition on notice in February when he said Port was targeting the flag this year, and they can seal the minor premiership with wins over Essendon and Collingwood. Wines says Hinkley's belief has been matched by the players.

"We had full confidence in ourselves," he said.

"Obviously Ken was the one who came out and said it, which was probably not too common by a coach but the fact he came out and said it put pressure on himself and us as a club. I think it's promoted us to keep on edge and play consistently throughout the year."