PORT Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has fiercely defended his club's decision to allow Zak Butters and Tom Jonas to return to the field late in Thursday's thrilling 12-point loss to Richmond shortly after a sickening head clash.
Butters and Jonas cannoned into each other attempting to tackle Liam Baker while trailing by two points with 13:45 left in the game, with Dustin Martin kicking a goal from the same play.
The pair, who were both left bloodied with cuts to their face, slowly got to their feet and stumbled off the field yet returned shortly after with the game on the line, leading to questions about their process on concussion tests.
Hinkley insisted club doctor Mark Fisher had followed the right process and that both players were fine to continue to play.
"Are you questioning a doctor of 25 years' experience that he made a wrong decision?" Hinkley responded when asked about the process followed on the bench.
"Do you think a doctor of 25 years would take a risk with concussion with the seriousness of injuries that go on now with concussion?"
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Hinkley added: "I gather there'd be some conversation around the collision but people get cuts in football and don’t get concussion.
"I've got a doctor who has been with our footy club for 25 years. The conversation between our doctor and our football manager during the game was these boys have got no issue with concussion.
"If anyone has got a challenge on that and they feel more qualified than Mark Fisher who is a 25-year AFL doctor, feel free, but I think you want to be really sure that you're not trying to make calls from outside the fence when you've got no knowledge.
"We've got a very experienced doctor who has the utmost respect in the AFL."
Hinkley said he had immediately spoken to both players in the changerooms after the game and insisted they were well.
"Both boys were split open. Both boys were bleeding. Those are the facts," Hinkley said.
"I spoke to both boys in the rooms straight after the game, they weren't laying down or fainting, they were talking to me very clearly 'oh mate I'm going to have a big black eye, but I'm pretty good, everything is OK'. Both boys are tough players too."
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick, who played for Port Adelaide from 2002 to 2004, backed in the Power's medical staff.
"I don't think there's a sport in the world that looks after its players as well as AFL," he said.
"I've known the doctors for many, many years at Port Adelaide. They're all first class. They'd never put their players at risk. No question. They make a quick assessment and that's what they're paid to do."
Hardwick was delighted with the hard-fought win which moves the Tigers into the top eight, with a 7-5 record.
"It is (important), especially after the Sydney loss, against a really good side like Port," Hardwick said. "To win those games against sides vying for spots in the eight it's really important."
Hardwick also praised Baker, who kicked the winning goal, along 200-gamer Dylan Grimes, while he indicated Tom Lynch (hamstring) would be available next week.
The Tigers coach also reserved special praise for 18-year-old debutant Judson Clarke, who kicked two goals with his first two kicks in AFL.
"He's just a footy head, he's a smart player," Hardwick said. "He gets in spots that are really dangerous. Everything he does is clean. He's going to get better. The conditions probably didn’t favour him tonight. He's like another Kane Lambert."