Kane Cornes has opened up on a sledge he received from Nathan Fyfe that had him questioning his football future.
The former Port Adelaide star revealed the sledge in AFL.com.au’s new series What Really Happened from 2014 – that almost certainly put a massive dent into the rest of his career and ultimately finished it for him.
Fyfe was coming off a fantastic 2013 campaign that led the Dockers to their first grand final in the clubs history and was one of the stars of the competition. He would be ineligible for the Brownlow Medal in 2014 after being suspended in round 2, but did finish second in the club’s best and fairest that year.
In Round 8 of that 2014 season, the Dockers headed to Adelaide in a matchup against the Power.
Cornes revealed that Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley had a plan in place that would stop Fyfe in his tracks, and it wasn’t himself playing on Fyfe, it was in fact Brad Ebert who got the job to take him out of the game.
Halfway through the first quarter, Fyfe already had 10 disposals, forcing Hinkley to move his best tagger, Cornes, onto him in an attempt to shut him down.
“The message from Ken Hinkley was pretty simple — do not let Fyfe touch the ball,” Cornes remembered. “So at the next stoppage, I went over and stood next to Nat Fyfe.
“He looked at me in amusement almost, I’ll never forget the look on his face, and he said to me with the ball only about 5m away, he forgot the ball and he just looked at me and said ‘bring your old skinny frail bones with me, we’re going straight to the goalsquare’.
“I thought ‘oh, here we go’.”
Fyfe had a huge 10cm and 15kg advantage on Cornes and Fyfe made sure to use every bit of that advantage, making it a one on one contest that Cornes would struggle to keep up with.
Fyfe kicked a quick goal on Cornes and turned around and had another sledge for Cornes.
“He looked at me and said ‘told you old man, it’s going to be a pretty rough day for you’,” he said. “That was it and that was the moment that had me questioning my football future. It took me another 12 months before I actually did retire but I never ever forgot that sledge from Nat Fyfe.
“What I did find is that the midfielders just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. On a good day I was weighing in at 79kg and the likes of Patrick Cripps, Marcus Bontempelli, Fyfe, Dustin Martin, Josh Kennedy from Sydney, are all upwards of 90kg, 95 even some of them tip the scales at 100. There was no way that I was going to be able to perform the role that I did against these powerhouse midfielders who would just brush me aside and make me look absolutely stupid.”
Cornes would go on to play 25 games in 2014 before retiring after just the 8 games in 2015.