Kane Cornes has refused to back down from his criticism of now-former Kangaroos list boss Glenn Luff, even after news emerged that his analysis of Luff’s moves led to the recruiter’s shock exit from the club.
With the Kangaroos sitting 17th on the ladder having won just one out of their first 10 matches this season, Cornes took aim at Luff and the recruitment team on Monday night’s episode of Footy Classified for the Kangaroos’ list composition.
“You can’t pick players off a computer screen. That’s what I’m saying,” Cornes said of Luff, who comes from an analytics background having worked at the AFL’s stats provider, Champion Data for two decades prior to his role at North Melbourne.
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Merely 24 hours after Cornes’ scathing assessment, Luff abruptly quit his post, with The Age’s Caroline Wilson and Eddie McGuire both confirming that Cornes’ comments had been the final straw.
However, Cornes refused to take a backward step from his initial assessment of Luff’s performance as North’s list boss, asking: “Why is he untouchable?”.
“You’re sad whenever anyone loses their job,” Cornes told SEN SA.
“It’s not a nice story, but this is the industry. We’re critical of players, we’re critical of coaches and conversely if you’re Stephen Wells at Geelong and you have an unbelievable record, we’ll pump you up. If you’re Tim Lamb at Melbourne, if you’re Jason Taylor at Melbourne, they’re the two architects of that premiership list, and I’ve spoken about them at length before as well.
“I find it hysterical that someone has left their job because of one relatively … in terms of a hard criticism, that wasn’t on the upper echelon, and he’s quit because of that. It’s bizarre.”
Cornes also hit back at claims that someone at North Melbourne with an agenda against Luff had urged him to put the recruiter in the hot seat.
“There’s not a leak to me,” the Port Adelaide champion said.
“This is the weird thing about this story. I read in yesterday’s Herald SunJon Ralph wrote about this story as well, and he’s alluded to the same thing.
“He said, ‘Even if he (Luff) was already considering his future, the unfair hit job on some of the list team’s draft picks this week must have had him wondering where that information came from’.
“Jon…this is where that information came from: the AFL Season Guide 2022. Just a little secret for any media or footy fans out there, you can actually scroll to the North Melbourne page, and you can go through every list decision they have made, every trade they’ve brought in, every draft pick they’ve made – and it makes for shocking reading.
“Now, if you’re the list manager of a football club and you make that many errors on your list and players that you bring in like (Jaidyn) Stephenson and like (Atu) Bosenavulagi and like Callum Coleman-Jones are not getting a game for the 17th-ranked side in the competition, then we start to have questions.
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“When you pick Will Phillips, who’s a midfielder that’s my height and there’s 50 of them running around in the competition, over Logan McDonald, who took 10 marks and kicked 3.3 on Friday night against Carlton, I’m going to question your decisions.
“Now, if you’re a list manager and you want to be anonymous, you’re in the wrong game. So if Glenn Luff has walked away because of one reasonably benign comment – and it certainly wasn’t a hit job and it certainly wasn’t any inside information, as I said, the information is widely available in the Season Guide, that’s where I got it from – you’re in the wrong sport.”
Luff was one of three members from North’s staff to leave the club this week, joining long-time national recruiting manager, Mark Finnigan, and national recruiting officer, Ben Birthisel.
While Finnigan and Birthisel’s departures were expected, North Melbourne CEO Ben Amarfio admitted the club had been blindsided by Luff’s exit this week.
“There are three different individual circumstances,” Amarfio said.
“I don’t want to get into too much of the detail, but what I will say is this … Mark has been with us for 17 years. He’s a fantastic person, but he received a great offer. He received some security. We don’t have that luxury to be offering fixed-term, long-term contracts to our staff. No one at this club has a fixed-term, long-term contract. Not me, not the coach. When you get an offer like that and you’ve done 17 years, you’ve got to put your family first.
“The same goes for Ben. Poor Ben has been stood down (during COVID-19), stood-up, put on part-time. He’s been studying in HR, he gets a job in HR, he’s got security, he’s got a young family. It’s a no-brainer.
“Glenn, well, we’ve all heard the noise about that. We were shocked about that and we were disappointed. I think there are a number of reasons why Glenn has left, and that (not feeling supported) is one of them. “
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