Port Adelaide president David Koch has emphatically declared Ken Hinkley will see out his current contract and coach the club in 2023.
A question mark had been hovering over Hinkley and his position at the Power, despite being contracted to the club until next year and his defiant AFL 360 interview on Monday night where he said he expected to be at Alberton next year.
Amid mounting criticism over Hinkley’s coaching from fans, Koch said earlier this week “every single person’s role” would be assessed at the end of the season, which has seen the Power drop out of finals contention after back-to-back preliminary final runs.
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Koch spoke on 5AA radio on Monday and conceded the club was “not afraid to make change.” His comment from him, “turn it around or watch out”, fueled speculation there could be sweeping changes to the club’s football department.
But Koch confirmed to 7 News Adelaide on Thursday night Hinkley would remain at Alberton.
“Obviously, for all of us, this season has been a major disappointment … (and) as we always do, we’ll thoroughly assess our football program at season’s end,” Koch told 7 News Adelaide.
“But, as the club has maintained all year, Ken Hinkley is contracted and will be our coach in 2023
“Prior to this season, Ken led us to two consecutive preliminary finals.
“Some will argue we should make a change based on our performance this season alone and that Ken has never taken the team to a grand finale.
“But we base decisions on all the information in front of us.
“We believe Ken gives us the best chance of successfully rebounding next season, of successfully attracting new talent and football department resources to make us better.”
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Speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 on Thursday night, St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt said it was a “big backflip” from Koch that should never have happened.
“I like it from the point of view that it provides fodder for all of us to talk about, but Ken Hinkley must get to the end of the week and think: ‘What did I just go and endure – and for what?’” a passionate Riewoldt said on AFL 360.
“So Kochie comes out on Monday saying what he said after the CEO, the footy manager, everyone else in the club has been on the same page – and five days later he backflips on the statement? He could’ve said on Monday what he said tonight, but he chose not to – and by omission, he put Ken Hinkley under ridiculous, undue pressure this week. It was really poor.
“I think Ken’s probably got a reasonable tolerance for it now after all of this time, but I’d be scratching my head.”
Hinkley is Port’s second longest serving coach, behind the club’s sole AFL premiership coach in Mark Williams.
In his 10 seasons in charge, Hinkley has steered the Power to finals in four seasons and has a 60.8 per cent win rate from his 212 games as coach.
When asked directly on AFL 360 if he felt any uncertainty as coach after Koch’s “turn it around or watch out” comments, Hinkley replied: “No, no I don’t”.
“David (Koch) himself has said that he expects me to be coaching Port Adelaide in 2023, as I do and that’s what I am preparing for,” he said.
“I think I’ve been given enough assurances (he’ll see out his deal) through the season, not that I needed them to be fair.
“We all get there’s a finish line for everyone at some point.
“But as I sit here tonight, I’m more than confident that that won’t be at the end of 2022.”
Hinkley said despite the outside pressure, his players “100 per cent” continued to back him in for an 11th season in 2023 – and final year of his current contract — saying:
“My players, they play for me every week. They play for us every week.