TOM CLUREY admits he was shocked when Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley approached him prior to the club's round one match against Carlton and told him he'd be making his AFL debut.

Excited, but shocked.

The 20-year-old defender said his pre-season aim was simply to train as hard as he could for as long as he could, before hoping to play in every NAB Challenge game.

With Alipate Carlile and Jackson Trengove both injured prior to the Power's pre-season opener against Adelaide, Clurey got his chance – and he didn't let it slip.

He was ultra-impressive in each display, showing maturity in an inexperienced backline that suggested he was ready for a shot on the big stage.

Hinkley obviously thought so too, and had no hesitation in picking him over a fit and available Carlile to face the Blues at Etihad Stadium.

Clurey told that before excitement set in, the coach's news left him stunned.

"I was obviously hoping he was going to say I was in the team, but I was still a bit surprised and shocked," Clurey said.

"When I came back to training last November, my focus was just to get a full pre-season under my belt. I did that – I did nearly 100 per cent of training – and then my focus was to play all the NAB Challenge games.

"That all happened really quickly, and the next thing I knew it was round one already."

Clurey held his own in his first senior game and, although he's been replaced by Carlile for Saturday's Showdown, Hinkley insisted he was "really unlucky to go out".

The youngster from rural Victoria said he would now work to improve his competitiveness before his "next AFL gig".

"I got a lot out of the game against Carlton, it was a big learning curve. Now 'Bobby's' (Carlile) coming back this week, so I'll hopefully just go back to SANFL level and keep working," he said.

"[Ken] was reasonably happy with my debut; he said I got through it alright and looked reasonably comfortable, but there were a couple of contests where I got out-marked on the lead.

"So I've still just got to keep working on my competitive side.

"I'll try and keep my form up in the SANFL so I'll be ready for my next AFL gig comes around."

Clurey's first game at senior level was made more special given the presence of his family at Etihad Stadium, and he was also able to share the experience with good mate and teammate Jarman Impey.

Impey also debuted against the Blues after being drafted by the Power last November with pick No. 21.

The pair live together with a host family in Adelaide and both hail from Shepparton in northern Victoria, not far from Ollie Wines' home of Echuca.

"They were all there, mum and dad and my brothers and I think there were a lot of friends there as well," Clurey said.

"Jarman was debuting as well, so I reckon there was about half of 'Shep' down there."