Hands off Hinkley: Gold Coast blocked

Port Adelaide chief Keith Thomas is standing firm over Ken Hinkley, saying he would not allow the Power senior coach to meet Gold Coast.

With the Suns CEO Mark Evans searching in earnest for Rodney Eade's successor, Thomas has warned the club against approaching Hinkley, whose team was bundled out of the finals in heartbreaking circumstances on Saturday night.

"Absolutely not," said Thomas, when asked whether the Suns would have his blessing to meet Hinkley. "It's crystal clear. I would consider that to be a club trying to induce our coach to break out of a contract.

"It would be very inappropriate."

Meanwhile, Evans has gone against the wishes of Sydney and met senior assistant Stuart Dew, who remains a front-runner for the Gold Coast job.

It is understood that the Suns have refused to change their coaching time-line to respect the Swans' finals commitments.

Carlton assistant John Barker has also formally entered the Suns process after Evans sought permission from Blues CEO Stephen Trigg.

While the Swans football boss Tom Harley told Evans the club would not block Dew from contending for the senior job, his preference was for the Suns to wait until Sydney's finals campaign was finished. Evans reportedly explained he could not wait. There has also been interest in another highly rated member of John Longmire's team, Henry Playfair, who remains in contention for an assistant coaching role.

Despite some disquiet about the timing of the Dew approach ??? the Suns want him to present in the coming weeks regardless of whether Sydney remain in contention ??? Harley said: "We're very comfortable endorsing Stu as a senior coaching candidate. We're certainly not a club that will block him or impede him personally.

"But our clear preference is it doesn't interfere with our season."

Port remains in damage control after chairman David Koch's inflammatory post-game comments, which questioned team selection and also the commitment of the players.

And, in further disappointing news for the club, major sponsor Renault will end its five-year relationship with Port Adelaide after a change of leadership at the top of that company.

It is not known whether Koch and Hinkley have spoken since, but several players and coaches were unhappy with their chairman's comments.

Thomas refused to discuss the issue with Fairfax Media.

Hinkley remains contracted to Port for one more season but Thomas said he planned to commence discussions with the coach for an extension to that deal once his player post-mortems and season reviews were complete.

While there is no suggestion Evans has approached Hinkley it is understood there has been some interest in the Port Adelaide coach of five years.

But Thomas said he spoke regularly with Evans, with the pair looking towards next year's China game and that he would have expected Evans to raise the subject of his contracted coach should he want to approach him. Thomas was also more positive on Tuesday when he expanded upon his assessment of the club's 2017 season after saying previously it was a pass mark at best.

"We finished fifth at the end of the home-and-away rounds and we won 14 games," said Thomas. "We blooded an impressive list of good new players, we won on the road and we significantly improved the coaching methodology and the coaching structure at the club."

Thomas added that Port had no intention of changing any of their coaching team.

The story Hands off Hinkley: Gold Coast blocked first appeared on The Age.

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