Kane Cornes has savaged the Adelaide Crows for their “disgraceful” attack on Max Gawn.
Melbourne will be without injured captain Gawn and his deputy Jack Viney for Sunday's clash against North Melbourne.
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Ruckman Gawn will miss because of a torn muscle in his back and also knee soreness, while Viney is sidelined by concussion for the Adelaide Oval fixture.
Gawn was under an injury cloud when he played in Melbourne’s Round 10 clash with the Crows, who didn’t shy away from targeting the struggling skipper.
In damning vision played on AFL.com’s ‘The Round so Far’ on Sunday, Crows players Taylor Walker and Ned McHenry can be seen attacking Gawn off the ball on multiple occasions.
“I thought it was disgraceful,” Cornes said. “When we highlight Jake Carlisle for targeting an injured player, he gets a fine and everyone’s outraged by it — this is far worse.
“This is premeditated, this is repetitive, this is a team attack.
“Ned’s got to pull his head in. He’s a second-year player who’s achieved nothing in the game — and Max Gawn probably doesn’t know who he is.
“But he went out of his way to target Max Gawn off the ball, and there is nothing that Max can do about it.”
Cornes in fiery debate with AFL greats
However fellow retired players Nathan Brown and Matthew Lloyd rebuffed Cornes when the Port Adelaide champion highlighted the incidents on the Sunday Footy Show.
“I haven’t seen anything like this for a long time,” Cornes said.
“Players come from 30 metres and go after Max Gawn, tell me how this is any different than Dane Rampe coming into a game with a broken hand and Jake Carlisle targeting it.”
Lloyd: “Cornesy, remember Round One last year when Port Adelaide in Butters and Rozee were giving it to Max Gawn and he didn’t handle it very well, how is that different what they did to what this is?”
Cornes: “Because he wasn’t injured.”
Lloyd: “But he declared himself fit to play. Have times changed have they?”
Cornes: “Absolutely times have changed. So why is it OK for Jake Carlisle to get fined and why is it not even being highlighted that this is a premeditated, repetitive, targeted attack?”
Brown: “But you’re only assuming that they knew, Kane.”
Cornes: “Of course they knew. I’ve never seen them do this tactic before. Max Gawn is not playing today Browny, he is out. One of the game’s best players is out, maybe because of that treatment.”
Brown: “All year you’ve been asking Adelaide to stand for something.”
Cornes: “Well get the footy.”
Brown: “Max Gawn is their best player, if you can quell his influence on the game then you come very close to winning that game as they were for a fair half of that game. If Max Gawn is out there I don’t see anything they did that was wrong.”
Cornes: “So did you think anything Jake Carlisle did to Dane Rampe was wrong because he was out there?”
Brown: “They’re different incidents. I think they’re different”
Cornes: “How could they be different?”
Lloyd: “So I’ll ask you the question, I agree it was a bad look what Carlisle did with Rampe, but people feel that Max Gawn can have his game put off by that, when can they go after him. Do they have to wait until his shoulder is feeling a bit better? What do you do about it?”
Cornes: “We’ve got three umpires out there Lloydo, how is that fair 100 metres off the ball?”
Brown: “You’re allowed to bump.”
Cornes: “You can’t bump 100 metres off the ball, Browny. You can’t block a ruckman’s run.”
Brown: “They’ve been doing it for 100 years, Kane. It’s happened for 100 years.”
Cornes: “You’ve got three umpires out there you’ve got to blow the whistle and pay a free kick. I can’t understand the difference in the two incidents I’ve just brought up.”
Demons play it safe with Max Gawn
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said Gawn won’t be risked given the four-day turnaround from the Demons' last game.
“He has got a few sore spots, so with the short turnaround it's best to give him a rest,” Goodwin told reporters on Saturday.
“It's not too serious. The torn muscle in his back is one thing, he has got a little bit of soreness in a knee as well.
“So they're two things we are monitoring pretty closely.”
The 12th-placed Demons (four wins, five losses) will also be without Alex Neal-Bullen against the 15th-placed Kangaroos (three wins, seven losses).
Neal-Bullen copped a four-game suspension for a sling tackle which concussed Adelaide's Will Hamill last Monday night.
Goodwin said his club was “incredibly disappointed” with the lengthy ban.