Channel Nine presenter Tony Jones has lashed out at retired AFL star Kane Cornes after he suggested the mental health struggles of players during the coronavirus lockdown may be contributing to their indiscretions.
Jones took aim at the former Port Adelaide midfielder on the AFL Sunday Footy Show, labelling his argument ‘garbage’.
When discussing the recent drink-driving charges involving Western bulldogs’ vice captain Lachie Hunter and Adelaide crow’s youngster Tyson Stengle, Cornes said players are finding the lack of structure hard to deal with.
Channel Nine presenter Tony Jones (left) has lashed out at retired AFL star Kane Cornes (right) after he suggested player’s mental health struggles during coronavirus isolation may be contributing to their bad behaviour
The retired great said players are finding the lack of structure normally provided by clubs hard to deal with. Pictured: Kane Cornes playing for Port Adelaide Power
‘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.’
But Jones and AFL reporter Damian Barrett scolded the 2004 premiership player and accused him of ‘making excuses’ for bad behaviour.
Western Bulldogs vice captain Lachie Hunter was involved in an alleged drink-driving crash in Middle Park, Melbourne, Friday, April 17, 2020
The Western Bulldogs vice-captain (left) with fiance Maddison Sullivan-Thorpe (right) had his licence suspended for 12 months and was slapped with a $1,652 fine for flouting Victoria’s coronavirus social distancing rules
‘Don’t give me that garbage, Kane,’ Jones told Cornes in a fiery exchange.
‘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 fired back at the pair and said they misunderstood his comments.
‘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.’
Hunter was involved in an alleged drink driving incident in the early hours of Friday morning.
The 25-year-old reportedly smashed into four parked cars after a fight with his fiance in coronavirus isolation.
As well as being hit with a $1,652 fine for flouting Victoria’s coronavirus social distancing rules, Hunter allegedly returned a breath analysis of 0.123 – more than double the legal limit.
AFL star Lachie Hunter (left) is pictured with fiance Maddison Sullivan-Thorpe (right)
Meanwhile, Crow’s forward Tyson Stengle was pulled over by police on the Thursday before the Easter Long Weekend.
It’s alleged the 21-year-old was driving an unregistered car in Adelaide’s south-western suburbs and blew 0.125.
The Adelaide Crows have faced a raft of scrutiny for not publicly disclosing the incident until April 18.
But Adelaide board member Rod Jameson said Stengle failed to inform the club when the incident happened.
‘Tyson didn’t inform the club until two, nearly three, days post the incident taking place so it happened in the early hours of Thursday morning and we weren’t informed until Saturday afternoon,’ Jameson told ABC Grandstand on Sunday.
‘Then it goes through a bit of a process.’