Port coach optimistic about AFL future

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley says he's optimistic about his AFL club's future despite a preliminary final loss.

KEN HINKLEY
KEN HINKLEY Picture: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley is about to spend some agonising time picking up the pieces.

But he's certain they all fit into the AFL premiership puzzle.

"I am optimistic about our football club ... it's going to be a very good football club," Hinkley said after Port's six-point preliminary final loss to Richmond.

"It hurts ... but there's some optimism in us.

"We have got a lot of the pieces we need. There's so much growth.

"I said last year at one stage that if you can't see the positivity in Port, you're not looking.

"You have got to be able to see it and know that we have got it."

But Port's future won't include stalwart Brad Ebert, whose 260-game career ended with another concussion.

Ebert was knocked out performing a typically courageous spoil - the latest in a string of concussions for the loyal servant.

"That's him done as an AFL player," Hinkley said of the 30-year-old.

"He has got to put himself, his health, and his family first.

"He gives everything to our footy club. He will walk away from the club knowing he did everything he possibly could ... the courage of that man is amazing.

"He has been pretty certain that this was probably going to be the end because he wasn't prepared to risk any further injury to his head, it's too important.

"So Brad will definitely retire."

Ebert's departure leaves a hole but Hinkley believes his squad have the talent to again challenge deep into the finals next year.

"Someone is going to go past Richmond at some point. We're going to be trying bloody hard to be that team that goes past them," he said.

"We learnt a lot this year. We said we were improving and we were coming.

"We didn't get to quite where we wanted to go but we gave it one hell of a shot.

"There's no doubt we have climbed a mountain (but) we didn't quite get to the top."