Jeremy Finlayson warms up head of round four, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

PORT Adelaide forward Jeremy Finlayson has been "cut deeply" after making a homophobic slur that resulted in a three-game suspension, his coach Ken Hinkley says.

Finlayson was banned for a slur directed at an Essendon opponent in last Friday night's game at Adelaide Oval.

"The reality was, as has been well reported, Jeremy knew straightaway he had made a mistake," Hinkley told reporters on Friday.

"And he's the sort of person who ... that would cut deeply for him. He doesn't want to be that person."

A remorseful Finlayson informed club officials of the incident at three-quarter time of Saturday's match, and apologised to the Essendon player post-game.

Jeremy Finlayson in action during the match between Port Adelaide and Essendon at Adelaide Oval in Gather Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Hinkley said the 28-year-old had shown "his ownership of the whole situation right from the very start".

"He knew he made the mistake immediately and he handled it very well," the coach said.

"(I am) someways proud of the way he was able to handle it and deal with the situation, as difficult as it was for everyone involved.

"It's an opportunity for us to all understand and learn still - and there's still more to be learned in those areas of our game, that we don't need to go to those places."

Finlayson will miss Saturday night's match against Fremantle along with games against Collingwood and St Kilda after being suspended by the AFL's integrity unit.


The former Greater Western Sydney player will also have to pay for and undertake a Pride in Sport education program.

"Jeremy, he's fine, he's OK. He's moving on with what he needs to move on with," Hinkley said.

"He understands exactly what's gone on this week and understands the mistakes that went with that.

"And he's handled it, I think, in the best possible way he could, knowing that he made the mistake."

Hinkley said slurs such as the one made by Finlayson were "not commonplace" in the modern game.

"Our people, and everyone who plays the game today, are much better educated in all places - not just in that spot but in all places, to know what's acceptable and what's not," he said.


Power forward Sam Powell-Pepper, who was banned for rough conduct for a bump that concussed an opponent in a pre-season game, will return against the Dockers.

Hinkley is imploring the utility to keep the combativeness that has been a hallmark of his 139 AFL games.

"We'll have to make sure he's calm and just plays with some good composure, but he's certainly ready to go," Hinkley said.

"We chatted about the way he plays the game, we think he plays the game really fair.

"So he needs to make sure that he comes back and plays his style of game.

"He has been suspended once in 130-odd games - he plays footy the right way, and he learned from his mistake four weeks ago."


Powell-Pepper returns alongside Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines, who has overcome a hamstring strain, to replace Travis Boak (ribs) and Finlayson.

Both clubs hold a three-one win-loss record entering the Adelaide Oval fixture.

"The competition is so close, you've just got to keep your eye on today and don't get too big a picture," Hinkley said.

"We just need to make sure we have got everything right to beat Freo, that's what we spend our time on this week.

"In a really even competition we've started off OK - we know how hard it is though."


The Dockers boast a League-best defence, having conceded only 253 points in their four games.

"Like most teams, they're fundamentally really sound with the way they play the game," Hinkley said of Fremantle.

"You have a style of football that you know yourself and you play yourself really well, and they certainly understand the way they play and they're very sound defensively.

"For us it's going to be a real challenge, but there's plenty of teams in the comp that are very sound defensively.

"There's a challenge of will, isn't there, of who gets to get the game on their terms as much as they possibly can."