'That's garbage': Channel Nine stars in fiery on-air clash over virus 'cop-out'

Tony Jones and Kane Cornes, pictured here discussing the drink-driving incidents.
Tony Jones and Kane Cornes clashed over the drink-driving incidents. Image: Channel Nine

Tony Jones and Kane Cornes have clashed on-air on the Sunday Footy Show after Cornes suggested two AFL players caught drink-driving were probably struggling mentally with being in lockdown.

Western Bulldogs vice-captain Lachie Hunter was charged with breaching stay-at-home restrictions and fined $1652 after he allegedly crashed into four cars at Middle Park about 8.45pm on Thursday.

‘I’M FILTHY’: Mick Malthouse lashes Victorian-centric AFL

NOT HAVING IT: Premier's ice-cold response to Sam Newman stunt

Hunter, 25, will be charged on summons with drink-driving and other traffic matters.

Adelaide Crows youngster Tyson Stengle was also pulled over by police while driving an unregistered car in Adelaide's south-western suburbs in the early hours of the Thursday before the Easter long weekend.

The 21-year-old will face a fine and loss of licence after failing a blood alcohol test with a reading of 0.125.

Discussing the incidents on Sunday, former Port Adelaide player Cornes suggested players’ mental health was being affected by the fact they were being forced to stay at home amid the coronavirus crisis.

“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,” Cornes 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.”

Lachie Hunter, pictured here in action for Western Bulldogs in 2019.
Lachie Hunter has been charged by police. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Tony Jones hits back at ‘garbage’ excuse

However that theory didn’t wash with veteran reporter and journalist Jones, who said there was no excuse for driving while drunk.

“Don’t give me that garbage, Kane,” Jones replied.

“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?”

Fellow journalist Damien Barrett also disagreed with Cornes, saying it was a “cop-out” to attempt to excuse players for drink-driving.

Cornes said he wasn’t excusing the players’ actions, simply expressing concerns for their mental wellbeing during the season suspension.

“TJ, you didn't hear what I just said. I said there is no excuse for drink-driving,” Cornes 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.”

Teammates caught in Lachie Hunter scandal

Meanwhile, Western Bulldogs young gun Bailey Smith has also been fined by police for breaching COVID-19 restrictions as the AFL club attempts to get to the bottom of Hunter's wild Thursday night.

Teammate Billy Gowers was also given a warning for his involvement in a series of events involving Hunter.

Victoria Police confirmed to AAP in a statement on Saturday that a “23-year-old South Yarra man has been given a warning for breaching the directions issued by the chief health officer” and “a 19-year-old Malvern East man has been served by post with a fine.”

Police were called following reports a Toyota SUV had crashed into the parked cars on Wright Street.

When officers arrived, the Toyota was found but the driver had left the scene.

Smith was understood to have driven Hunter to Gowers' South Yarra home.

“We found out about the incident in the last couple of hours and we'll obviously take the time to investigate it,” Bulldogs president Peter Gordon told SEN radio on Friday.

“Football is very prominent in people's lives ... but this isn't the message we want to send out there.”

with AAP