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Hinkley latest COVID out as Dogs, Saints ravaged, new Roos boss wants ‘positive vibes’

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley will miss the Power’s trip to Alice Springs to take on Melbourne, after becoming the latest COVID case to hit the AFL.

Hinkley has entered health and safety protocols and joins eight players, as of Friday morning, forced to miss their teams’ Round 18 matches.

Assistant coach Nathan Bassett is set to step in for the match, but Power football manager Chris Davies has said the coaching group will take on Hinkley’s responsibilities as a collective, while the coach will link up with the box digitally on game day.

“First and foremost, Ken is feeling fine,” Davies said.

“He will continue to contribute in the lead up to Sunday’s game and will be connected to the coaches’ box on game-day whilst isolating at home.

“Fortunately, we’ve planned for various scenarios in recent months, including impacts from Covid on our coaching group.

“Forwards’ coach Nathan Bassett will coordinate messaging across the lines at each break whilst midfield coach Brett Montgomery will remain focussed on instructing the midfield group, who will be critical to the result on Sunday.

“And Chad Cornes will continue in his usual role as defensive coach.

“No other coaches or players have been impacted at this stage, although we’ll continue to remain vigilant and closely monitor any symptoms that may present.”

After only isolated cases across the first four months of the AFL season, Brisbane’s recent COVID outbreak that caused them to be severely undermanned against Essendon has seen a league-wide spike in cases.

Hardest hit this week has been the Western Bulldogs, with star forward Aaron Naughton, midfielder Lachie Hunter and utility Josh Schache all ruled out of their clash with St Kilda. However, the Saints have also been affected, losing experienced midfielder Seb Ross and young gun Marcus Windhager.

Brisbane ruckman Oscar McInerney, Collingwood backman Isaac Quaynor and Melbourne premiership player Harrison Petty are among the other names to miss.

The drama coincides with the league lifting its vaccine requirements on players and staff, opening the door for former Blue and Lion Liam Jones and Cam Ellis-Yolmen to return to the AFL next season, as well as AFLW star Georgia Patrikios.

The trio were forced to step away from the game last year under the league’s mandatory vaccine policy.

“The health and safety of our players, staff and the wider community has been one of the guiding principles governing the AFL’s ongoing response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” AFL general manager Andrew Dillon said in a statement on Thursday.

“Our AFL industry has continued to adapt to the circumstances in front of us, and while we have removed the mandatory vaccine mandate, we still maintain the view that vaccinations are the best form of defence in minimising the impacts of COVID with the focus now on keeping up-to-date with all recommended boosters.

“We will continue to monitor the COVID situation as it evolves. If we need to adjust over the coming weeks and months, we will do so in consultation with the respective Governments and medical professionals.

“As an industry we are committed to providing a safe environment for all our people and doing what we can to reduce the risk and impact of transmission of COVID-19 within the community.”

Power coach Ken Hinkley looks on

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Roos caretaker after ‘positive vibes’ for rest of the season

North Melbourne caretaker coach Leigh Adams is hoping to lighten the mood at Arden Street, in the midst of a dismal season for the club.

Adams is preparing to take the reins for the first time against Richmond on Saturday, following the resignation of David Noble during the week.

With the Roos marooned in last place on the ladder with just one win for the season, expectations are low, but Adams says improving the mood around the club is his first goal.

“We want it to be really enjoyable, we want our guys to play to their potential and their talent and really show what we can play like as a footy club,” Adams told media on Friday morning.

“If that means we can win a couple of games that would be great, and we’re going into every game thinking that we can win.

“But we just want the guys to be able to express themselves on the field and play some really exciting football.”

Attacking football will be the order of the day for the Roos, with the club averaging under 56 points a game for the season, having scored more than 100 points fewer than next-worst side West Coast across the year.

“We’re going to try to free the guys up a little bit more on offence, and let them play what they see in front of them,” Adams said.

“We want to score, we to score as fast as we can and as much as we can, and not let defences get set behind the footy.

“It might mean at times that we make a few mistakes, but we’re just going to encourage the boys to keep going after it, make mistakes and try to clean them up afterwards.”

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