KEN HINKLEY played a crucial role in Kane Cornes retiring to join the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service – he was the Port Adelaide veteran's resumé referee.

Cornes will pull the pin on an illustrious career after his 300th game, against Richmond in round eight at Adelaide Oval.

Since his debut in 2001 the 32-year-old has won the Power's best and fairest award an equal record four times – he's been a place getter a remarkable 10 times.

He's a dual All Australian and was a member of Port's 2004 premiership team.

But the game caught up with him; despite shutting down Hawthorn star Sam Mitchell and Adelaide midfielder Rory Sloane in rounds four and five, Cornes said his best was behind him.

He was "extremely confident" the Power would challenge for this year's flag but felt it would be selfish to try to "grip and claw" for a place in that team.

"That was the thing that I agonised over the most, the thing that I spoke to Ken about … me leaving, how would that impact the team and their chances," Cornes said.

"There were no guarantees that I was going to be playing good enough footy to play in a premiership for Port Adelaide and maybe that would have been a selfish decision to try to hang on for that.

"When you play a certain standard for a long time, only players that get to that point can tell you that there's just a feeling you get that something's just not quite right.

"We're often criticised, AFL players, that we finish and we don't know what we're going to do but for me to have that opportunity and the support the footy club's given me has been a selfless decision by the Port Adelaide Footy Club to help me transition out."

The timing of Cornes' retirement couldn't be helped.

He applied last November – with about 1500 others – for one of 11 spots as a firefighter and never really rated his chance of being accepted.

Hinkley was aware of Cornes' progression through the process and as his referee was interviewed to vouch for the Power champion's character.

Cornes was initially apprehensive to speak to his coach about his plans, but thanked him for his blessing and help in transitioning from football.

He accepted a position by telephone with the SAMFS at around 6pm on Monday, but didn't receive his official letter of offer until 1.30pm on Wednesday afternoon.

"I didn't want to feel like I was letting him down – he was actually the referee on my resumé with the MFS, so it's probably one of the reasons I got in," Cornes said.

"It's my fault," Hinkley joked.

"I pushed you out … I spoke honestly, unfortunately"

For a player who has built a remarkable career on an insatiable work ethic and dedication to training, the end of Cornes' retirement press conference was fitting.

"We got to go train," he said and stood and left the room, followed by Hinkley and the entire Port Adelaide playing squad.