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Coaches go from friends to foes for Showdown

Harry Thring  April 12, 2013 4:58 PM

AFL 2011 Rd 11 - Geelong v Western Bulldogs

Brenton Sanderson during his tenure as an assistant coach at Geelong

THEY played and coached alongside each other at Geelong but on Sunday, Adelaide mentor Brenton Sanderson and his Port Adelaide counterpart Ken Hinkley will be "arch enemies" in Showdown XXXIV.

Sanderson and Hinkley's playing careers crossed paths at the Cattery in 1995 where they both acted as assistants to Mark Thompson, coaching the Cats to the 2007 and 2009 premierships.

Hinkley's appointment at Port Adelaide brought the pair back together again, but this time as cross-town rivals.

Sanderson said they would remain close despite the rivalry, but admitted their friendship would be put on hold this weekend.

"We've got a really healthy relationship away from footy being involved with success at Geelong," Sanderson said.

"The rivalry's not between Ken and I, it's between our football teams and our football clubs.

"We understand this game means everything to our fans and our players obviously as well, there's a rivalry [there] that developed long before Ken and I came and the rivalry will still be there after we leave.

"Ken and I will remain close but I guess [we'll be] arch enemies when it comes to four o'clock on Sunday."

Sanderson, whose side has won the past three Showdowns, said time spent together at Kardinia Park also shaped the way he and Hinkley coached.

The Crows coach's preference for hard, contested football was immediately introduced when he replaced Neil Craig at the end of the 2011 season and Hinkley also tried to form a harder outfit when he arrived at Alberton.

The rookie Power coach also instilled a heavy emphasis on defence over the summer and Sanderson said the similarities between the sides was obvious.
"Ken and I obviously have the heavy influence of who we worked with and who we were coached by," Sanderson said.

"I think we value the same things when it comes to game plan and the way we set up from a strategy point of view … I think we both play a very similar way.

"We both value contested ball and method around the contest and that healthy balance between attack and defence."

Harry Thring is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Harry