ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 18: Ken Hinkley, Senior Coach of the Power during the 2023 AFL Round 01 match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Brisbane Lions at Adelaide Oval on March 18, 2023 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Port Adelaide senior coach Ken Hinkley was forced to address questions about his club's handling of yet another head-knock situation on Sunday evening.

Veteran defender and skipper Tom Jonas clashed heads with teammate Ryan Burton on Sunday against Fremantle at Optus Stadium, and while he was initially subject to a head injury assessment (HIA) by the Power's medical team, he went back onto the ground before again being dragged to receive a SCAT5 concussion test.

Port Adelaide has been under fire recently due to its precarious handling of the AFL's concussion protocols; raising concerns about player safety and the club's compliance with league guidelines.

The club was recently fined $100,000 for mishandling a similar incident involving defending pair Aliir Aliir and Lachie Jones, of which $50,000 remains pending over Port's soft cap.

Jonas' collision with Burton occurred midway through the second quarter, with Burton also receiving a medical assessment as a result of the clash. While Burton initially returned to Sunday's action, he was later permanently removed from the contest due to a separate injury and was substituted out of the game.

Jonas, meanwhile, was bleeding from the head and was removed from the field.

The veteran was allowed to return to the game after an initial five-minute HIA on the bench during halftime. It wasn't until the third quarter, though, that Jonas was taken off for the official Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT5) assessment; a more comprehensive test for concussion.

Addressing queries regarding the incident post-game, Hinkley supported his club's real-time procedure, stating the medical team was cautious in its handling due to the recent controversy.

"With the information and feedback we got and in the position we've been in (with Aliir and Jones), we made the really cautious decision to make sure we actually did everything we should have," Hinkley stated on Sunday evening.

"We want to lead the way with that (concussion handling) now ... We don't want to cause any problems."

The decision to comprehensively assess Jonas was appropriate, even if only to avoid further backlash and penalty.

Still, questions may linger as to why Jonas was permitted to return to the field before undergoing the comprehensive SCAT5 test, and whether the club's actions fully prioritised player safety and adherence to the AFL's guidelines.

In any case, as former players continue to pursue lawsuits against the league and its clubs for concussion-related damage, the AFL is only likely to become more stringent in its adjudication and surveillance of clubs' handling of similar situations.