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Time for Port Adelaide to break the AFL trend and sack Hinkley now

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Roar Pro
5th April, 2023
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Generally, when a coach is on the hot seat due to poor performances and results, it becomes difficult for them to get their ideas and messages across to the playing group who start to lose confidence and resent buying into the project.

From the outside looking in, that theory has gradually developed over time during Ken Hinkley’s past ten years at the helm of Port Adelaide.

The 56-year-old has a 58.3 percent win record as a coach since 2013, finishing in the bottom half of the ladder five times across ten years.

For the amount of talent they’ve commanded during that period, not one preliminary final appearance along with some incredibly inconsistent displays have left Power fans incredibly frustrated, and rightfully so.

A sense of the unknown surrounded Hinkley and his men before the start of 2023, with many unsure of what to expect which relates to the inconsistency just mentioned.

Round 1 witnessed the biggest shock of the week as Port brutally put the Lions to the sword by 54 points at the Adelaide Oval, seemingly putting the competition on notice early. It’s important to note that Brisbane is often traditionally a slow starter.

What began as a dream start for Hinkley has suddenly turned into a nightmare, succumbing to Collingwood and the Adelaide Crows by 71 points and 31 points respectively.

Power coach Ken Hinkley looks on

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

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Questions are now quickly turning toward the direction of Hinkley. Speaking on the Big Deal Podcast on Monday, former Port premiership captain and club legend Warren Tredrea led the calls for Hinkley’s sacking.

“There is an element of fans disconnect with their board and with their coach and I just look where Ken Hinkley sits, he has been there for 10 years, he is contracted until the end of the year and for me, it looks, albeit round 3, it just looks untenable,” Tredrea said.

Although many supporters have become disgruntled and agree with Tredrea’s opinion, another former Port player Kane Cornes shared the opposite view on Monday night’s episode of Footy Classified.

Responding to Tredrea’s comments, Cornes is skeptical of the impact a new coach would have right now, asking “What is that going to achieve?”

It seems premature and rational to think about relieving a coach of their duties after three games, but you could argue against Cornes and ask what will be achieved by keeping Hinkley at the club for any longer.

After ten years, we have gathered a big enough sample size to determine that Ken Hinkley is not the man to move the football club in the direction it wishes to move towards. Consistency is lacking which is evident in the game style they produce each week. You simply don’t know what you’re going to get with them.

It might come across as completely crazy to sack a coach so early but don’t think of it as three rounds. Instead, think of it as ten years and three rounds. Nothing is going to change.

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Why not bring in a new coach with some fresh ideas and a chance to stamp his authority early on in the year when the season is still very much salvageable? Josh Carr would be a suitable replacement and one that the club is exploring as reports suggest. Why wait until the end of the season when he can be handed an extra 19 games to implement his plans sooner?

Standing down a coach in the AFL has not been a popular trend. Only five coaches have been sacked during the season since 2012, with one of those being Matthew Primus losing his job at the power eleven years ago.

Recent examples suggest that hiring a new coach midseason can lead to immediate improvement, referring specifically to David Teague and Rhyce Shaw.

There’s no denying that Port is a few players shy at the very least from contending for a premiership, but if you look at their list, they should be performing so much better than they’re currently demonstrating.

Ollie Wines, Conor Rozee, Charlie Dixon, Orazio Fantasia, and Jason Horne-Francis are just a select few that offer the talent and capabilities necessary to be competing with the very best for a top-eight finish.

Port president David Koch has clearly stated that a decision won’t be made concerning Hinkley’s future until August. From a financial standpoint, it makes sense. Hinkley’s contract expires at the end of the year and sacking him now would mean having to pay him out in compensation.

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Putting that issue aside, the bigger picture needs to be realised for the good of the club. How much longer do they want to wait to see changes unfold and succeed on the field?

This is the perfect opportunity for the club to make a real statement of intent and show the rest of the competition that they are serious about changing their culture.

Ken Hinkley has been a great servant to the football club, but times have moved on – and so should he.

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