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Former Scotch coach Matthew Nicks set to take the reigns for Power in pre-season

Written on the 2 March 2015

Former Scotch First18 Coach, Matthew Nicks

Matthew Nicks coached the Scotch College First 18 for two years before taking on a development role at Port Adelaide Football Club under Matthew Primus in 2011. Nicks will replace Ken Hinkley as Head Coach for the next fortnight of NAB Challenge games.

The former Sydney Swan who quit football completely for stockbroking after retiring from playing in 2005, said he was "obviously over the moon" when Hinkley told him he would coach Port against West Coast and Richmond.

Hinkley, who first floated the idea with Nicks towards the end of last season, told his players on Friday that Nicks would take over until Hinkley returned to the coaches' box for the final pre-season clash against Adelaide on March 21 at AAMI Stadium.

"That's just his style," said Nicks, Port's 39-year-old defensive coach, of Hinkley. "Nothing about Ken is about Ken. He's almost embarrassed about the focus on him now with the 'Yes We Ken' banners and those things.

"He sees the club's improvement as a real reward for everyone here and he likes to reward his assistants and I think he just wants me to see things from another perspective."

Having lost his two most senior assistants to senior coaching jobs in successive years, Hinkley said he refused to become paranoid about losing a third. "If we can see our people appointed to senior jobs we see it as a good reflection on our club," said Hinkley.

"This is a first for me. I see Clarko [Alastair Clarkson] letting his coaches have a go at it but I've always been a bit of the mentality that I'm the senior coach.

"But my No. 1 thing in this is to make him a better coach. If something comes up down the track for Nicksy that's great but him being a better coach will make us better as a team.

"I want him to have a knowledge of the whole game - offence and stoppages as well as defence. It's just an opportunity for him to grow. I'll be taking a calmer seat hopefully - I won't say I won't be switched on because I will be - but I'll probably sit on the bench on the ground."

Nicks' first coaching role was a part-time one in Sydney overseeing UNSW-Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs, a job he took on more than a year after being forced through injury to retire just seven weeks before the Swans 2005 premiership. "I couldn't stand footy for a while," he said. "...In a lot of ways stockbroking was just the same as footy. You win one week, lose the next."

Returning to Adelaide in late 2008 he then coached the Scotch College first 18 for two years before quitting the stockmarket and taking on a development role under Matthew Primus in 2011.

His senior coaching trial debut comes against the Eagles at Norwood next Sunday in a coaches' box to include his higher profile colleagues Michael Voss, Josh Carr and Tyson Edwards. "I've got some pretty impressive help around me," said Nicks.

While Nicks has a low profile - Hinkley promoted him from a development coach to a line position when he took on the Port job but didn't even know that the former 10-year Swan was a South Australian - Port Adelaide has also supported his application to undergo the first AFL-run level four coaching course.

Nicks is one of a list of 14 assistant coaching candidates - they also include Simon Goodwin, Adam Kingsley, Leigh Tudor, Stewart Dew and Blake Caracella - who will be cut to between eight and ten by an AFL sub-committee to undergo the mentoring program which could in the future become mandatory for all senior league coaches.

"As soon as I heard what they [the AFL] were doing in lifting coaching courses from level three to another level I was jumping up and down," said Nicks. "If I do get in I'll be stoked but if not I'll wait and apply next time. The club has been great and they've already sent me on an AFL trip with some other coaches to the United States and Canada.

"Historically you probably do need a profile to become a senior coach but we've seen clubs to their detriment take a guy with a profile. This is just a personal opinion but nowadays you can't just tell players what to do. You need to build a relationship with a player."

Original article by Caroline Wilson for The Age. Photo supplied.


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