It was a bold first move that may set the tone as to how Ken Hinkley approaches his new role as the coach of Port Adelaide.
That’s quite easy to state, after it was revealed that club stalwarts Jacob Surjan and David Rodan, as well as budding goal kicking midfielder Mitch Banner and small forward Simon Phillips, were all delisted.
It’s 232 games worth of experience from two senior players and a talent in Banner – Phillips’ nine games for the Power, or his five for the Swans for that matter, didn’t set anyone’s world on fire – gone, without Hinkley batting an eyelid.
It sets a fairly ruthless edge to the recently-appointed head coach that no doubt sends a message to the competition, in that he is prepared to do what it takes to ensure success returns to Alberton.
Perhaps it too sends a stronger message to the rest of the playing list, suggesting that the adage “my way or the highway” is being drilled into the mindset of every member of it, young and old.
It might explain the delisting of Rodan, in the good books of most at Port Adelaide – the coaches excluded, as Hinkley and his predecessor Matthew Primus have made apparent.
Rodan may be aging, and his knees may be deteriorating, but he nonetheless provides a burst of energy and spark through the ground, whether from a quick clearance or a quick goal.
Having just turned 29, there’s still time for him to conclude his career, even as a fairly permanent substitute; he fits the mould nicely and has plenty to offer in a role of the like.
Surjan may yet have more in the tank, being two years younger, and may be the more surprising delistee.
It’s quite a fall from grace for the nuggetty and tough defender, after elected into the vice-captaincy alongside Dean Brogan in 2010 just two years ago.
Being your exemplary tackling, stopping negator in the back half, you’d expect that he’s the type of player that gains praise from the coaching staff moreso than anybody else for the role that he plays and the leadership that he emanates.
Honest small defenders are few and far between nowadays, and with Surjan one of the first names that can slot into the category, it’d be hard to imagine that there aren’t clubs currently chasing up his signature.
On the other end of the spectrum, Banner was emerging – though slowly and not completely – into a tough midfielder who knows exactly how to find the scoreboard.
Going at a goal a game playing throughout the centre of the ground is something not many can hang their hat on and, while Banner doesn’t possess a great skill set, goal kicking is one of the most important.
With an emphasis on skills – his kicking and decision making can let him down and need work – throughout another pre-season, there isn’t a reason why he can’t, at the very least, develop into a solid small midfielder.
These players carry qualities that can at least be moulded and suited so that they’re predominantly utilised, and there isn’t much debate in stating that those qualities lie at an AFL standard.
However, it’s clear that Hinkley disagrees, in that these players don’t possess the range and combination of what exactly it takes to play solid and consistent AFL footballer, and has made the accordingly tough call.
For his first real club statement, it’s a fairly hefty one, and for that some kudos is warranted.
Whether these players again display that they can worthily become AFL-standard contributors elsewhere will determine whether he deserves a lot more.