Kane Cornes: The league’s biggest hot take artist

Kane Cornes had a short-lived career in the fire brigade after his retirement from the AFL.

Close your eyes for a moment and picture yourself in this scenario. You’ve entered your 15th season in the league. Approaching 300 games, you can feel the end is near.

Midway through what you know will be your final season, you decide you want to join the fire brigade. Because you are part of one of South Australia’s most famous sporting families and you’re a premiership player and 4x best-and-fairest winner at your club, you skip the admission process and get straight in, you’re now a fiery.

But you soon realise being a fireman isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You love footy and need to be back in the system and because you’re an ex-player, you pass all the requirements to join the footy media. Now the challenge to become relevant in the bloated sea of ex-players, turned “experts” begins.

Kane Cornes is the most fascinating retired player to walk into the media, maybe ever. A hot take specialist who attempts to be as controversial as possible which has somehow forged him his own section within the football media.

For a quick example, just look back to Monday after the first week of the JLT Series. Melbourne’s 53-point victory over North Melbourne was definitely impressive. A good spread of goalkickers, they looked organised defensively and the midfield proved much stronger than their Roo opponents. However, it’s only the pre-season and the game doesn’t really mean anything.

So, someone coming out and say, suggesting Melbourne will make the Grand Final immediately after a pre-season win would just be offering up fairly predictable clickbait. Kane, please indulge us.

That is how Cornes has operated since he retired in 2015 and that makes him either the least self-aware person in the media (beside Mark Robinson) or, the smartest operator in the football media.

There are a lot of personalities a player can take on when entering the media. It is something a lot of players want to do, and why not, there’s no experience, or skills, or ability required, it guarantees you a decent pay check, and it is easy work.

The biggest challenge is staying relevant, as each year another group of footy legends realise there’s no point leaving the system, even once they hang up the boots.

The easiest persona is the soft, “good bloke” routine. Call that the Cameron Ling. Be really nice to everyone you interact with, never criticise anyone and basically never even have an opinion. This is easy, people like you, you’ll never offend anyone and never risk losing your prime position.

A harder identity is the one Cornes has chosen to take on. Be as controversial as possible, speak exclusively in hot takes and make it your prime objective to create headlines. And, amazingly he’s beaten the system. In the world of clickbait and media companies desperate for clicks and readers, hot takes are golden.

Here’s a brief list of corners Cornes has stood on as he’s ascended to be king of the controversial opinion. Accusing Patrick Dangerfield of exaggerating injuries. Labelled Alex Rance a diver. Said Hawthorn’s O’Meara trade will be one of the worst of all time. And called for player salaries to be made public. Those are all in the past 12 months.

He doesn’t even limit himself to his former sport. Going down the easy “female tennis players shouldn’t be paid as much as men” path and what has become the most effective way to drive clicks via riling up a readership, soccer will never be as popular as AFL in Australia.

That’s what Cornes does, throws out grenades and watches them explode in the comment section. It’s perfect, for him and whoever he works for. Hence why he’s on radio in Adelaide on 5AA, and safely entrenched in Craig Hutchinson’s Croc Media stable which has netted him a spot on the Sunday Footy Show and inexplicably, a three-hour radio spot on SEN, broadcasting out of Adelaide.

Cornes probably doesn’t even believe half of what he says, he just says it for effect, he’s a genius. Or he does believe everything says and is an idiot, in any case his unique brand of controversy is perfect for 2018.

For your average football supporter, they’ve quickly grown to despise Kane Cornes and everything he stands for, and that’s the point, that is the power of the hot take.

Geelong cannot rush the re-signing of Chris Scott

Chris Scott’s current contract comes to an end after 2017.

Most Geelong fans would have felt sense of dread on preliminary night in 2016 when the sole inclusion to the team Lachie Henderson, who was coming off a three-week layoff with injury, started forward.

Sure enough, Sydney embarrassed the Cats with a 10-minute onslaught of physical pressure and precision disposal which Geelong couldn’t match and by quarter time the game was over.

Maybe the extent of the mismatch was surprising, but Geelong fans have come to expect finals failures under Chris Scott, particularly early in finals where the Cats never seem to be prepared for the intensity and the pressure of a massive contest.

For all of Geelong’s home and away success under Scott, their finals record is poor, after 2011 very poor. The Cats have played finals four times since 2011 for two-wins and six-losses. This record creates a quandary for Brian Cook and the Geelong board with the end of Scott’s current contract approaching.

With a year to go on his contract, Scott signed a two-year extension in 2014 and that deal expires at the end of this season. There have already been rumblings that an extension is in the works and may even come before the 2017 season begins. Geelong doesn’t have to look too far back in AFL history to see what a mistake that could be.

Richmond, Fremantle and Brisbane all jumped the gun prior to the 2016 season, extending Damien Hardwick, Ross Lyon and Justin Leppitsch for multiple years beyond 2017. All three decisions proved to be disastrous as both the Dockers and the Tigers tumbled out of the finals and the Lions finished last, sacking Leppitsch in the process.

And if you think Geelong are different to those situations, there are a lot of similarities between Fremantle of 2016 and the Geelong of this year. Falling out of the top four is a real possibility and it wouldn’t be shocking if they missed the top eight entirely.

Aside from not being prepared for the contest or Sydney’s pressure and some questionable coaching decisions, the Cats major downfall on preliminary final night was a complete lack of midfield depth which was shown up against the league’s best midfields.

To combat the likes of Luke Parker, Daniel Hannebery, Josh Kennedy, Tom Mitchell and Kieren Jack, Geelong had Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield and very little else, an issue which plagued them at various times throughout last season. It was fitting that the pair both collected 39-dispoals, with the next best Cats players in terms of disposals being Jimmy Bartel and Corey Enright who both collected 26-disposals and who also both retired.

Alarmingly they haven’t addressed the gaping divide between Dangerwood and the rest of the midfield and if anything, the gap has become bigger. Aside from a few standouts performances from Cam Guthrie, Josh Caddy was the side’s third best midfielder yet was valued below Scott Selwood and Sam Menegola and was shipped off for peanuts to the Tigers.

Steven Motlop bore the brunt of the criticism for the rest of Geelong’s midfield, however for someone who arrived out of shape in preseason; his numbers were strong and like Guthrie produced some best-on-ground displays. There were others who produced less than Motlop

Ultimately this lack of midfield depth comes back to development and to a certain degree drafting which just hasn’t been a priority for Geelong as free agency and trading has become the club’s primary source of list building.

Development falls on the coach and a look back at Geelong’s draft strikerate under Scott isn’t very impressive. The Cats have participated in six National Drafts since Scott took over from Mark Thompson and development of in-house players has been a problem.

They’ve only had three first round picks under Scott, which is a problem in itself, but none of the three players are club standouts. Jackson Thurlow has shown the most of the trio and is primed for a big bounce back season after missing 2016 with a torn ACL in the NAB Challenge. Nakia Cockatoo and Darcy Lang are the other two first-rounders and both remain on the fringes of Geelong’s best team and neither played in the preliminary final debacle against Sydney.

Joel Hamling was their first pick in the 2011 draft and never played a game, Jarrad Jansen was a second-round pick who also never played a game and few others are even still on the list.

Mix that with the stagnation of Mitch Duncan, George Horlin-Smith, Jordan Murdoch who are still with the team and Shane Kersten and Billie Smedts who have moved on and it creates a big gulf of talent which hasn’t been replaced from the premiership years.

To counter, Geelong has turned to the trade table, which is always a gamble. From the side who took on Hawthorn last Friday in Launceston, six were traded from others clubs and that doesn’t include Scott Selwood and all of these were recruited in their prime and haven’t been developed by Scott or Geelong.

Taking all those reasons and shoving them aside for the moment, there’s one bigger reason to wait on an extension, it’s simply okay to wait.

Richmond jumping the gun on Hardwick’s extension highlighted a club’s fearfulness of losing a coach driven by media hysteria. There was no need to re-sign Hardwick prior to the season and there’s no need to re-sign Scott now.

Another finals collapse or even worse, a drop out of finals, would be an embarrassment if they had already extended Scott. Hold your cards, play the season out and make an informed decision at the end of the year, because Geelong may have already peaked under their current coach.