Hinkley on hot seat at Port, Simpson claims 0-3 start will help Eagles, Crow faces ban

Port Adelaide ruckman Scott Lycett says the player group is backing coach Ken Hinkley despite the club’s horror 0-3 start to the AFL season.

The pressure is ramping up on Hinkley after the Power followed up their 64-point loss to Hawthorn in Round 2 with a four-point defeat to arch rivals Adelaide.

Port Adelaide were touted as a premiership fancy at the start of the season, but they are now in serious danger of missing the finals. Hinkley is contracted until the end of 2023.

But Port Adelaide’s 71-point loss to the Western Bulldogs in last year’s preliminary final – combined with the 0-3 start to this season – means Hinkley is under huge pressure to turn things around quickly.

A loss to premiers Melbourne at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night would leave Port Adelaide at 0-4, but Lycett said Hinkley has the support of the player group.

“Definitely players are all in. We’ve got his back from him,” Lycett said. “Everyone copies it at some stage of their career.

“Look at Todd Marshall last week. He was copping it left, right and centre, and then he came out and had a really good game (with five goals). It’s just about how you take it and what you do with it.

“We’ve been hearing noise and we understand, but we’ll be looking to turn it around this week.”

Former St Kilda stalwart Nick Dal Santo believes Hinkley can turn Port’s season around.

“I’m not writing Ken Hinkley off. I really like him as a coach,” Dal Santo said on AFL Tonight.

“They haven’t won a premiership under his reign but I think he’s been exceptional; to back up year after year.

“They need to get their season back on track. What better time than against the reigning premiers?”

Fellow commentator Kane Cornes labeled talk of Hinkley being under pressure as “ridiculous when you think about it logically” on SEN.

“What is needed now is strong leadership and support for Ken Hinkley and not a knee-jerk reaction three games into the year to sack him.”

Lycett says his team isn’t mentally scarred by last year’s preliminary final mauling, and is optimistic the Power can play finals this season.

“Definitely. I think we can make finals for sure,” he said. “We haven’t started well, but it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.

“I’d rather be performing at the end of the year than at the start. But we understand we need to get a wriggle on and start winning some games.”

Simpson says Eagles will learn from poor start

West Coast coach Adam Simpson believes the Eagles’ nightmare start to the AFL season will benefit the club long-term.

The Eagles have slumped to 0-3 for the first time since their wooden spoon season of 2010 after being thrashed by Fremantle in Sunday’s western derby.

But the on-field results have just compounded the turmoil they have experienced off it. West Coast has been dealing with a player availability shortage.

After being forced to bring in top-up players for their round-two game against North Melbourne, captain Luke Shuey, Willie Rioli, Liam Duggan, Bailey Williams were in isolation for the clash with the Dockers.

“Quarantine for seven days and coming out and playing a game like ours is going to be difficult,” Simpson told Fox Footy.

“What we have learned is connection is really important and the culture of your football club is critical and you don’t succeed without it.

“I’ve definitely seen it really thrive and also fracture before but it’s as tight as I’ve seen the playing group.

“If nothing, they get a deeper connection and a better sense of belonging and then that will set us up. It might not be in the next week or two but it will pay us back down the line.”

Shuey, Tom Barrass, Duggan and Rioli are all strong chances to return for Saturday’s clash with Collingwood at Marvel Stadium, while Elliot Yeo, Tim Kelly, Jamie Cripps and Oscar Allen aren’t far behind.

McKinnon faces AFLW grand final ban

Adelaide’s Montana McKinnon has been offered a one-game ban for rough conduct and is set to miss the Crows’ AFLW grand final against Melbourne.

McKinnon was charged for making contact with Fremantle superstar Kiara Bowers during the second quarter of Saturday’s preliminary final win.

The match review officer graded the incident as careless conduct, medium impact and high contact.

The Demons will be able to pick Alyssa Bannan for the decider at the Adelaide Oval after she was offered a reprimand for a dangerous tackle against Brisbane’s Sophie Conway in the other preliminary final. Bannan will accept an early plea after the incident was assessed as careless conduct, low impact and high contact.

Fremantle’s Laura Pugh was not so lucky as she was offered a one-game ban for striking the Crows’ Stevie-Lee Thompson in their preliminary final. Pugh will miss the Dockers’ opening-round game next season if the club doesn’t decide to appeal the sanction.

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