AFL: It's back to the drawing board for the Gold Coast with the embattled Suns to restart the interviewing process for their vacant coaching position.
The Suns were expected to meet with Sydney Swans assistant Stuart Dew this week after their efforts to snatch Ken Hinkley away from Port Adelaide were in vain.
Hinkley turned down a reported five-year offer to take charge of the Suns, instead extending his contract at the Power to 2021.
The Suns began interviewing candidates in Melbourne last week, with Carlton stoppages coach John Barker and St Kilda midfield coach Adam Kingsley believed to be among the contenders.
But Dew had postponed his scheduled interview as speculation over Hinkley's future raged.
More formal presentations will take place in the coming weeks with a decision on Rodney Eade's replacement expected in the first week of October.
The Suns' search changed direction after chief executive Mark Evans reached out to Hinkley's management after being told of potential friction between Hinkley and Power chairman David Koch.
The Suns thought they had their man.
Hinkley, however, said he was relieved to be staying on at Alberton.
"There's some relief because of the last week," Hinkley said.
"There's no doubt about that, it's been pretty tiring for everyone involved - family, Port Adelaide, myself. It becomes a little bit taxing, but just so pleased still to be part of this club and this group of players.
"I've always said, what we have going is unbelievable as a group of players between coaches and the football club.
"I needed to keep that going."
Hinkley took the reins in 2012 after a stint under Guy McKenna at the Gold Coast, and has led the Power to three finals campaigns (2013, 2014 and 2017).
"How can you walk away from a group that you built and you've been a part of?" Hinkley said.
"I walked in this door with a young Ollie Wines. Last year, I've been involved with a young (Sam) Powell-Pepper; Joe Atley, Todd Marshall-type players come in.
"If you know me, leaving that behind is nearly impossible."
The Suns' interest helped Hinkley's bargaining power with Port Adelaide.
"Because of the speculation and all the intensity of all of the media, it did accelerate the process," club chief executive Keith Thomas said.
"You don't want to be in the newspaper or in the media without a position.
"The longer it goes on, the longer the stories build, whether they're factual or not."
Outspoken Port president David Koch admitted there was "tension" but "certainly not bad blood" between he and Hinkley after Koch's controversial post-match comments to members following the Power's two-point, extra-time elimination final loss to West Coast.
"That's what happens with organisations - it's what happens between (wife) Lib and I, and (with his colleagues) on (television program) Sunrise," he said.
"Nothing is sugar and sweet 100% of the time. But what you need to look at is the heart of it and the heart of it is we're passionate for success.
"The whole thing hasn't nearly been as frantic as what it has been made out to be."
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