Port train in Shanghai for Suns AFL clash

Everyone take a deep breath – Shanghai should work this Sunday as an AFL venue.


After concerns about air pollution, possible sandstorms and the tyranny of distance, Port Adelaide had their first training session on Thursday at Jiangwan Stadium ahead of the historic match.

Port players raved about the turf quality, putting it on a par with the MCG.

While it is hot, conditions have not been oppressive.

The Shanghai air quality on Thursday was no worse than a muggy summer day in Melbourne or Sydney.

Port coach Ken Hinkley said regardless of the unusual circumstances, instinct would take over for the players once the ball was bounced.

“It will be okay – it will be fine,” Hinkley said when asked about the ground dimensions.

“It’s not dissimilar, once the boys get out there and play.

“That’s the thing we forget sometimes – once the boys get out and the ball’s bounced, they’re just playing footy and it doesn’t matter where they play.

“It’s a great opportunity to be in Shanghai to play this time.”

The AFL has converted a large field that usually holds several soccer pitches into the playing venue.

The two squat grandstands on either wing are very 1960s-era Communist architecture – the party bosses would not look out of place on the balcony, acknowledging a mass military parade.

Gold Coast arrived early on Thursday morning, with a two-hour delay on the Singapore Airport tarmac meaning their trip from door to door nearly took a full day.

But co-captain Steven May said they were determined to make the game a success – something the team had started talking about immediately after the weekend’s win over Geelong.

“That’s what we preached with the group – we’re going over to a different country and we have to embrace it, rather than have that negative mindset,” May said.

“The boys were fantastic last night when the (flight) delay came – it was our first little test and they were super.

“We have a really good, young, emerging group who, after a couple of wins, are starting to get some belief.”

Like their Port opponents, the Suns’ players also had lessons last week on the basic do’s and don’ts of Chinese society.

May said they were told: “a few things that are touchy subjects over here, that probably in Australia, they wouldn’t be.

“I can’t really remember … as long as I don’t talk about them, it’s alright.”

They were also reminded that the Chinese regard red as a lucky colour.

“We’re happy with that,” May said.

His coach Rodney Eade was quoted widely after a Sunday radio interview, with comments about air quality and the lack of business-class travel for his players.

But on Thursday, Eade said the international experiment was “great – it’s fantastic.

“There are no complaints, no concerns – like Port, we’ve had this on the radar.

“We’ve done our preparation accordingly.”