‘Are you questioning the doctor’: Hinkley defends medico after Port pair clash heads

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has vigorously defended the professional judgment of the Power’s doctor after concussion protocols were not enacted following a head clash involving two of the club’s star players on Thursday night.

The club is likely to be quizzed by the AFL in the coming days for allowing skipper Tom Jonas and young gun Zak Butters to play on in the final quarter, and not putting them through 20-minute protocols during Port’s two-goal loss to the Tigers.

Tom Jonas and Zak Butters get taped up after their head clash.Credit:Getty Images

In a testy post-match press conference, Hinkley said Dr Mark Fisher, Port’s long-serving doctor, had cleared the players of concussion. After being off for several minutes, the pair returned to the field sporting bandages over their facial lacerations.

“I’ve got a doctor who has been with the footy club for 25 years and the conversation between our doctor and our football manager during the game was these boys have got no issue with concussion,” Hinkley said.

“So if anyone’s got a challenge on that and they feel more qualified than Mark Fisher, who is a 25-year AFL doctor, feel free but I think you want to be really, really sure that you’re not trying to umpire or make some calls from outside the fence when you have no knowledge.

“We’ve got a very experienced doctor who has the utmost respect in the AFL.”

Hinkley bristled at suggestions that concussion protocols would have been enacted if the incident had happened earlier in the game. Essendon star Adam Ramanauskas had made a similar assertion on ABC radio.

“Are you questioning the doctor or not? Because he made a decision that [concussion protocols] didn’t need to happen,” Hinkley said.

An unimpressed Hinkley became increasingly frustrated amid repeated questions about the issue.

“So you think a doctor of 25 years experience would take a risk with concussion with the seriousness of the injury that go on now with concussion,” Hinkley said. “Can we stop the questions?

“I’ve tried to answer it for you as well as I can. I get what you’re saying but I’m also saying back to you that I’ve got the most experienced doctor in the AFL making these decisions. Where do you want me to go? Where do you want him to go? Do you want him to go back to medical school? I don’t know.”

Hinkley said both Butters and Jonas were in good condition after the game despite being “bashed up”.

“I spoke to both boys in the rooms straight after the game,” Hinkley said. “They weren’t laying down, they weren’t fainting and they weren’t doing anything silly. They were talking to me really clearly. ‘I’m going to have a big black eye but I’m pretty good, everything is OK’.

“Both boys are tough players too, shouldn’t forget how tough they are because that’s a hit, for those who don’t think the game’s tough that’s a hit.”

Richmond scored a goal while both players lay stricken on the field. Port had already activated the medi-sub after Trent Dumont injured his calf.

“They’re never timely, you’re in a close game you need them out there, the game’s played that way, we’re not surprised, sometimes you get people with cuts,” Hinkley said.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick, a premiership player for Port in 2004, also defended Dr Fisher.

“I don’t think there’s a sport in the world that looks after their players as well as AFL,” Hardwick said. “So from our point of view, I’ve known those doctors at Port Adelaide for many, many years.

“They’re like our guys, they’re all first-class, they’d never put a player at risk, no question. They make a quick assessment, that’s what they do, that’s what they’re paid to do and they put them back.”

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