AFL great Kane Cornes touching on the mental health struggles players are enduring in isolation in the wake of Lachie Hunter’s crash has sparked a testy exchange with Tony Jones.
Speaking on the AFL Sunday Footy Show, Cornes suggested that the incidents involving both Huner and Adelaide youngster Tyson Stengle proved how players were struggling without the structure provided by AFL football.
“I think it speaks to the concerns that I had when the footy was cancelled at first, and that was the mental health of the players,” he said.
“By no means am I giving this any excuse because you’ve got no excuse to jump in a car when you’ve been in and around alcohol, but two incidents in two days speaks to the fact that some players won’t cope with this.
“They won’t cope with the lack of scheduling. Instead of preparing for a game on the weekend, they’re at home.”
However, Jones and AFL reporter Damian Barrett wouldn’t have a bar of Cornes’ explanation, suggesting that being isolation was no excuse to drink and drive, with Barrett calling Cornes’ statement a “cop out”.
“Don’t give me that garbage, Kane,” Jones told Cornes.
“Don’t you become one of the apologists mate. Drink driving is drink driving. Don’t you dare start going down the apologists track.
“There’s plenty of people who have lost their jobs, well they’re not going around doing stuff like that are they?”
Cornes reiterated that he didn’t believe isolation was an excuse, but maintained that he is concerned about the wellbeing of AFL players while there are no matches being played.
“TJ, you didn’t hear what I just said. I said there is no excuse for drink driving,” he said.
“My concerns are for the mental health of the players and that was my concern a month ago when I said it on Footy Classified because these players are used to having the structure that’s been taken away from them.
“They’re no different to the rest of society, I get that, but my expertise is with AFL players and this speaks that a number of them may not be coping and the AFL has got to keep an eye on them.”