PORTLAND coach Jarrod Holt is backing his Tigers to make an impact in finals, regardless of whether they earn a double chance or play in a knockout game.
North Warrnambool Eagles dislodged Portland in third spot on Saturday.
The teams are now locked on the same amount of premiership points with four rounds remaining but the Eagles' superior percentage (248.15 to 134.03) has them in the box seat.
Holt, who has re-signed for the 2023 season, said the Tigers would take belief into their first Hampden league finals series in a month's time.
"I will get a solid eight hours' sleep - it doesn't bother me if we finish third or fourth. At the end of the day it will be what it will be," he said.
"We just want to play the best footy we can. We want to try and build a bit of momentum and form leading into finals.
"If we finish fourth I am comfortable with that. Come finals time we'll give ourselves an opportunity to have a good run at it.
"If we are so desperate to finish top-three now we are going to neglect other things.
"We might play guys who are injured when we shouldn't, so we're definitely not going to be doing that."
Holt said Portland was "under no illusions" as to where it sat in the pecking order.
But the non-playing mentor has belief in his side which also would've played finals in 2021 if not for COVID-19 restrictions forcing cancellations.
"We have a bit of ground to make up on a few sides but we also think when we can get going we can knock them off on our day and be competitive," he said.
"It's probably just about consistency for us. We'll just keep striving to get better."
One bonus for the Tigers is ruckman Ben Malcolm's availability.
The influential tall played the first three rounds before he was sidelined for a month.
"It is pleasing he is able to string some games together now," Holt said.
"He likes to have game time under his belt. He likes to do plenty of work in the ruck and if he can get some continuity he feels a lot more comfortable, fitter, healthier and stronger.
"He was frustrated early in the year with injuries and pretty much didn't play the first half of the year.
"We talked about maybe it's a blessing - he starts halfway through the year and come the back of the year and finals he'll be flying rather than be burnt out."
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