Xavier Duursma came off second-best in a marking contest with teenage tall Tom Scully, and it’s not the only way the fresh recruit is catching the eye of coaches. TRACK WATCH

Port Adelaide assistant Josh Carr wants to be a senior AFL coach, but is not in a rush as he enjoys the start of his third stint at Alberton.

Carr is the Power’s new midfield mentor after three years in the same role at Fremantle, and his return has led to external suggestions he is well placed to take over from Ken Hinkley.

Hinkley is out of contract at the end of the season, coming off an 11th-placed finish in 2022.

Car played 124 games for the Power from 1999-04 and 2009-10, then was an assistant there from 2011-15, before coaching North Adelaide to a SANFL premiership in 2018 and joining the Dockers a year later.

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He said his plan had “always been to come back to SA”, where his wife’s family was based, and he had not thought about any of the speculation over Hinkley’s future.

“I want to be a senior coach one day, but I’m not in a rush to do that,” Carr said.

“I’ll keep learning and when the time presents, I’ll be ready to go.

“I learnt a lot from Ken in my early days as a coach then to be able to go away and bring back more intel and more experience as a coach, and help him out, is what I wanted to do.

“He teaches me a lot, he challenges me as a coach in different areas and I’m only going to get better coaching with him.

“I love being back here, I enjoy the culture of the footy club and the people.”

Carr said he joined Fremantle wanting to learn more, particularly about team defence, from Justin Longmuir.

“All football clubs are different, they’re run differently and see things differently, so it was nice to get a different perspective,” he said.

Boom recruit Jason Horne-Francis is expected to play primarily as a midfielder this season, rotating forward along with the likes of Connor Rozee and Zak Butters.

But the 2020 No.1 pick’s positional split is yet to be determined.

Carr could hear the excitement of supporters every time Horne-Francis got the ball during Wednesday’s match simulation.

“Each session he’s got better and better, and been able to sustain more run and physicality out there,” Carr said of the 19-year-old, who resumed full training this month after having surgery on both legs in October.

“He’s only a second-year player, there’s obviously expectation from where he’s come from being a number-one draft pick, but Jason’s got a lot to learn as far as AFL footy and what the game requires.

“He’s been really open to learning and getting better.”

In other notes from training on Wednesday:

■ Wingman Xavier Duursma was crunched by high-leaping draftee Tom Scully in a marking contest during the scratch game, was down for about a minute, then needed trainers to help him off the ground. Carr said Duursma copped a knock to the head, as well as a corked hip, and was a bit groggy, but had pulled up OK. “Come next week he’ll be right, I’m sure he’ll be able to run. It’ll just be precautionary from a head point of view,” he said.

■ Orazio Fantasia spent the session running along the boundary. Carr expected him to train next week. “He was a little bit tight in the calf last week, so we’re just looking after him,” he said.

■ Star midfielder Ollie Wines watched on from the sidelines, building from off-season knee surgery. He is expected to return to full training the week starting February 6.

■ Draftee tall forward Scully impressed again on Wednesday, flying for marks and giving experienced defenders a tough time. “He has been impressive,” Carr said. He presents at the ball, is obviously over 200cm and he’s hard to defend as a tall guy.”

■ Junior Rioli did some running after having Covid over the past week, while Charlie Dixon sat out the session after laser-eye surgery. Jackson Mead copped a shoulder knock on Monday and was restricted to jogging on the sidelines. Ollie Lord was walking along the boundary, on the mend from a lacerated kidney, but without a timeline for a return. Tom Clurey (knee) was in and out of drills, while Josh Sinn (groin) and Jase Burgoyne (knee) did not participate in match simulation. Mead, Clurey, Sinn, Burgoyne, Jed McEntee (hamstring) and Trent Dumont (calf) should be back in full training on Monday.

■ Will Francou – son of former Power star Josh Francou – caught the eye a few times during the match simulation, moving well and finding the ball. Overlooked in last year’s drafts, Francou is eligible to line up for the Magpies in 2023.

Boom recruit ‘electric’ in return to Port pre-season

Xavier Duursma has enjoyed watching fellow 2018 first-round picks Connor Rozee and Zak Butters become Port Adelaide stars, but says it is now his turn to take the next step in his development.

Duursma endured two frustrating campaigns in 2021-22, playing 10 SANFL games, battling knee and shoulder injuries, and struggling for consistency.

Those years were a stark contrast to his debut season, when the wingman burst out of the blocks with Rozee and Butters, before finishing ninth in the Power’s club champion award.

While Duursma’s form dipped again in 2022, Rozee earnt his first All-Australian blazer then won the best-and-fairest.

Butters polled seventh in the John Cahill Medal count.

Duursma, 22, said becoming much fitter, sharpening his routine and working on his mindset with club staff had put him in a strong position to have a big 2023 campaign.

He also sought off-season advice from his dad, Dean, whom he described as a “pretty wise footy mind”, and Power coaches.

“It’s been a challenging couple of years and I’ve learnt a lot about myself,” said Duursma, the 18th pick in the 2018 national draft.

“There were things that probably didn’t work in my favour … a couple of injuries, confidence, form that type of stuff.

“I love seeing Buttsy and Rozee take the next step.

“You can see it out on the training track, they’re even going another level now, they’re amazing.

“But I want to take that step as well and I think it’s my turn now to get to that point.”

To do that, Duursma planned to make his running a weapon again.

Duursma also conceded he had not been confident jumping for the ball due to his injuries.

Karl Amon’s free agency move to Hawthorn opened up a wing spot that Duursma wanted to cement.

Of the speculation he might be traded in October, Duursma said: “I’m glad to be here and wasn’t going anywhere”.

The Power had an open training session at Alberton Oval on Friday.

Among the observations from the sidelines were:

■ Boom recruit Jason Horne-Francis returned to full training this week, sporting a couple of eye-catching scars on the back of his legs. Horne-Francis, who underwent surgery in October to decompress arteries behind both his knees, was already impressing. “He’s looking pretty electric out there,” Duursma said. Former Power star turned development coach Hamish Hartlett told the crowd Horne-Francis was “super competitive, loves hitting bodies and uses the ball pretty well too.”

■ Match simulation teams looked to be split between As and Bs. The top side, wearing black, featured the usual suspects, along with former Geelong small forward Francis Evans and Riley Bonner. Lachie Jones, Tom Clurey, Trent McKenzie, Jackson Mead, Brynn Teakle, and Willem Drew were in the other team, donning white.

■ Goalsneak Orazio Fantasia spent the session on a bike, being managed, but was said to be fine and expected to be back training on Monday. Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines, who was considered to be another week or so away from full training, did not take part in the match simulation and instead was running and doing handball drills. Second-year wingman Josh Sinn (groin) ran early in the session then sat out the scratch game. Defender Jase Burgoyne also did not take part, though did some running. Draftee Kyle Marshall rolled his ankle during the match simulation. West Coast recruit Junior Rioli was absent with illness.

■ Swingman Ollie Lord is back home after lacerating his kidney in a marking contest at training on Monday and spending a couple of nights in hospital. He is expected to start non-weight-bearing conditioning at the club from next week.

■ First-year tall forward Tom Scully’s reach, timing and goalkicking stood out during the match simulation. “He’s looking really nice,” Duursma said. “He’s got a really good jump and times it pretty well too, which is a big thing for a young forward. He’s got strong hands as well.”

■ West Australian speedster Jed Hagan, who was overlooked at the draft and signed with Port Adelaide’s SANFL team this week, played with the white team. In 2022, he was an under-18 All-Australian and lined up in eight WAFL matches for East Fremantle. The 175cm talent was expected to play as a half-forward.

Originally published as All the Port Adelaide 2023 pre-season news: Jason Horne-Francis back to full training

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