Collingwood assistant Garry Hocking an ideal choice to be Crows coach

Geelong champion and ex-Port Adelaide assistant Garry Hocking has been formally interviewed for the Crows coaching job. And a SANFL star reckons he’d make a great successor to Don Pyke.

Geelong great Garry Hocking is in the mix to be the Crows’ senior coach and one of his former star players believes his man-management makes him an ideal candidate.

South Adelaide dual Magarey medallist Joel Cross played under Hocking at the Panthers in 2017 and said the ex-Port Adelaide assistant had genuine care for his squad and was a strong communicator.

Adelaide was understood to have interviewed Hocking, now Collingwood’s VFL coach, in person last Thursday as part of its month-long search for Don Pyke’s successor.

The Crows are tipped to appoint a new coach within a week and are reportedly having a second meeting with Hawthorn’s head of matchday strategy Adem Yze on Wednesday night.

Adelaide’s shortlist has included GWS senior assistant Matthew Nicks, while Hawks forwards mentor Scott Burns has also been linked to the job from the time it became available.

With Adelaide looking for someone who could unify the team after back-to-back years without finals and talk of internal fractures, Cross said Hocking fit the bill.

“His man-management is outstanding and I think the Crows, from an outsider looking in, need someone who can help them through a difficult period in terms of where they’re at as a club,” Cross told The Advertiser.

“He has genuine care for his players and he is able to adapt his message really well for different people.

Garry Hocking is now an assistant coach at Collingwood. Picture: Adam Trafford/AFL Media
Garry Hocking is now an assistant coach at Collingwood.

“He knows when to wrap himself around you and give you a cuddle because things aren’t going your way, both from a football perspective and personal perspective.

“I had some very difficult times there with my father passing away and he was enormous for me, in terms of just calling me and making sure everything was OK.

“Dad passed after he left and he made sure he called and texted, and made sure he stayed in contact with me because he knew I’d be struggling.

“That’s the sort of person he is.”

Hocking played 274 games for Geelong, where he won four best and fairests and made four All-Australian teams.

The Australian Football Hall of Fame member coached WAFL club Peel Thunder in 2004-05 then TAC Cup side Geelong Falcons (2006-09) before spending the next seven years with Port, including as caretaker coach in 2012 and the Magpies’ SANFL mentor in 2014-15.

He steered Port to a grand final and semi-final, and South to sixth.

GWS senior assistant Matthew Nicks has been on a Crows coaching shortlist. Picture: Sarah Reed
GWS senior assistant Matthew Nicks has been on a Crows coaching shortlist.

Hocking had a reputation as being intense at times and a straight shooter but Cross said that outside perception was not reality.

“If morale’s down and things aren’t going the way of the club, he’s more than happy to be the butt of the joke and put himself out there and be laughed at, and get morale up,” he said.

Cross said Hocking also understood where the game was going and thought outside the square in trying to keep players engaged.

“He was always willing to back us in and be creative in the way we wanted to be and if it didn’t come off, it wasn’t a spray, it was ‘maybe put it away for a little while and we’ll come back to it next time’,” he said.

Meanwhile, reports on Wednesday suggested Richmond senior assistant and Power premiership defender Adam Kingsley had withdrawn from the Crows coaching race.

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