Sam Powell-Pepper looks on after Port Adelaide's clash against Carlton in round 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

PORT Adelaide won't appeal against Sam Powell-Pepper's four-game ban, with coach Ken Hinkley saying the AFL has sent a blunt warning to all players of harsher penalties for concussion incidents.

Powell-Pepper was suspended for rough conduct for a bump which concussed Adelaide's Mark Keane in a match simulation last Friday night.

Hinkley said the severity of the ban is a clear message to all AFL players for the looming season.

"What has been really clear is that there's a level of responsibility that's even stepped up again and the AFL have made that clear this year already," Hinkley told reporters on Thursday.

"It is really clear now that what was last year is different to what's going to be graded this year.

"We all accept that because we think it's better for the game. We understand that.


"We're not appealing it. We made our decision based on we can see why and we don't want those incidents in the game."

Powell-Pepper "knew he had got it wrong and he owned that", Hinkley said.

"It's a really difficult situation for players but they can't be any clearer with their responsibility," he said.

"It's somewhat of a football incident that happens in our game unfortunately in a contact sport.

"No one sets out to cause the damage but the reality is someone's responsible for that.

Ken Hinkley and Sam Powell-Pepper celebrate Port Adelaide's win over Essendon in round eight, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

"We have been really strong all summer on what's expected – tackling, sling tackling, all the things that we think can get our players in trouble.

"Sam plays an aggressive style of football ... he knows he has got it wrong and he understands he has got to pay a price."

Port's lawyer Ben Krupka argued at the Tribunal hearing Powell-Pepper's ban should have been three games, and urged the panel not to make a "scapegoat" of the Port forward.

"It's not a word that I agree with," Hinkley said.

"It's a precedent. There's a line in the sand again with this concussion situation.

"The AFL made it really clear that if you create the incidents that we have seen, there's a level of penalty that you're going to pay that's higher than it was in previous years."

Sam Powell-Pepper and Mark Keane during the practice match between Port Adelaide and Adelaide at Alberton Oval on February 23, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Hinkley said Powell-Pepper, who has been elevated to the Power's leadership group, was shattered about the incident.

"Sam is an absolute team player, there is no more devastated player than Sam himself," he said.

"He is part of our leadership group and is a really important part of this team.

"And we stand by Sam, we don't hang him out.

"We think Sam plays ... in the right way and he's absolutely a very valued member of our team and he knows that.

"He would love to be out there to support the boys in the first four weeks of the year – he won't be, we move on."