Ken Hinckley is famous for his honesty.
He’s loyal to the players, loyal to the fans, loyal to his assistants and loyal to the media watching the cameras every week.
Now, with Hinckley’s contract coming to an end, will Port Adelaide be loyal to him as head coach on the move?
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If it’s time to part ways – and weekly suggestions cross that it might be – how can Port Adelaide and Hinckley agree in a respectful way to end their nearly decade-long partnership?
Hinkley has to this point dismissed any links to the senior coaching job at Greater Western Sydney, let alone North Melbourne, and said after last Saturday’s loss to Collingwood: “I’ve had the experience to be honest”.
Talk to those in and around Port Adelaide, however, and the narrative seems to have changed.
Once Hinckley was guaranteed to coach the club in 2023, the chances of making it clear in recent weeks (and plenty of it) have passed.
Hinkley was quick to respond to questions surrounding his future and was angered by club fans who posted ‘Sack Hinkley’ signs on the club’s property.
The general belief about Hinckley’s future is that any discussion should begin, or at least be accepted by him – there is simply too much respect between Hinckley and the club for it to get ugly.
The Giants and Leon Cameron have made sure to avoid a ‘long bye’ and reach some level of mutual understanding this year before the offense gets too tiring.
Last year, a similar situation befell Collingwood and Nathan Buckley, whose decades-long partnership ended as cleanly as its longest relationship.
He shares Cameron’s situation with Hinckley in particular.
“Leon Cameron’s example is apt,” Gerard Wylley said on AFL 360 this week.
“Lyon went to the finals and won the finals, he went into the last year of his contract and they started poorly and it’s over. You have to weigh that.
God forbid for North Melbourne or the Giants I hope they do it early if they want to do it. Don’t delay until everything else is done.
As things stand, it will all take place in the 2022 postseason – the possibility of any domestic showdown being announced early is remote, as Hinkley and the club themselves seem undecided on the next best step. year.
From all reports, Hinkley still has the players, injuries and recent losses have perhaps made an unfair reflection on the position of the side of the ladder.
Still, the reality is that Port Adelaide lost their first five matches, bounced back, and have now lost four of their last five games.
There have been significant declines in several key stats, including points in turnovers (sixth to 15th in 2021), turnovers (sixth to 13th), inside 50 differentials (fifth to 10th) and possession differentials (fourth to 10th).
Losable games against Essendon and Adelaide close the season and all eyes are on the final two weeks, but it’s hard to imagine the results won’t have at least some impact on where the club sees itself next year.
It should also be a big question for Port Adelaide: if Kane leaves, who will come in?
Perhaps the easiest first option would be Alastair Clarkson, but the powerhouse is a few meetings behind North Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney in that race.
The Power could easily appeal to Clarkson’s sense of coming full circle, as the four-time Premier League boss spent two years as assistant manager, including a 2004 premiership run under Mark Williams.
As Hinkley learned during his time at the club, Clarkson understands what it means to represent Port Adelaide.
Then there are assistant coaches like Adam Kingsley, Ashley Hansen and Adam Yates who are all waiting for their chance to lead an AFL team, and Craig McRae is a prime example of how such a move can work.
Speaking on Monday, club president David Koch said post-season talks would not focus solely on Hinkley, but he did nothing to suggest the winds of change will not take the club this season.
“It’s not just about one individual. It’s the whole program. Turn it around or be careful,” he told FIVEaa.
Because as we do, everyone’s role is evaluated at the end of the year. But this year is more important than ever and we’re not afraid to make a difference. We have made many changes.
“We have to win games and we know we live to do that.
At the end of the year we make those tough decisions throughout the program so that we can be better next year.
According to Hinkley, whatever happens must happen, such is his outstanding contribution to the club over such a long period of time.
And if anyone lives up to his belief that he’s the best man to take Port Adelaide forward or deliver the kingdom, it’s Hinckley.