'Irrelevant': Kane Cornes slammed over 'unfair' criticism of AFL star

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West Coast coach Adam Simpson is seen on the left and AFL pundit Kane Cornes on the right.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson has described Kane Cornes' criticism of his player as 'irrelevant'. Pic: Getty/Ch9

West Coast coach Adam Simpson has hit back at Kane Cornes after the AFL pundit and former player's swipe at Eagle Elliot Yeo.

Cornes questioned the fitness of Yeo after describing West Coast's two-time All-Australian as "out of shape" during Saturday's loss to Port Adelaide.

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Yeo struggled for the Eagles in the chastening 84-point loss that helped the Power jump off the bottom of the ladder.

Yeo managed just four disposals and three tackles before being subbed out of the match in the second quarter, following a head collision.

However, Cornes took issue with the player's apparent lack of match fitness after questioning how Yeo "presented himself" before the match even got underway.

“I’m really conscious of the fact you can’t label an AFL player overweight now for the backlash that will come with that, but I was watching Elliot Yeo’s performance on the weekend and his lack of impact in the game,” Cornes said on Nine's Footy Classified on Monday night.

“His standards have slipped at West Coast... I reckon across the board standards have slipped and he shouldn’t playing if he presents like that.

“That could be one of the reasons West Coast are in the position they’re in.

“He is always injured. He has to get fitter.

“I think some players can present as full-time athletes, when their body is their one tool, better than they have... he looked out of shape to me.

“We used to call it ‘fat club’ (at Port Adelaide) if you’re above 60 skin folds. Once you get into the AFL system your body is your only weapon. You have to hold yourself to elite standards.”

Pictured left is West Coast star Elliot Yeo and AFL pundit Kane Cornes on the right.
The form and fitness of West Coast star Elliot Yeo (L) has come under question from a number of former AFL players. Pic: Getty/Nine

West Coast coach defends Elliot Yeo

However, Simpson has moved to defend his star player, who has been plagued with injuries over the last few seasons and has only played 23 games since the start of 2020.

“To be honest I haven’t read anything that Kane Cornes has written or heard anything he’s said, so irrelevant is what comes to my mind about what his opinion is,” Simpson said.

“Elliot Yeo has not played football for the last two-and-a-half years, really. He’s had osteitis (pubis), he had a calf injury, he got knocked out at the start of the second quarter, he’s played two games this year.

“I think that’s a little bit unfair if that’s the criticism on him. He’s played 12-13 games in the last 40. He’s working really hard. I’ll back him and it’s still irrelevant.”

Simpson also defended the fitness levels of his side, despite conceding that a spate of injuries and positive Covid-19 cases has taken its toll on the squad.

“Going into pre-season for us, we were really happy with our fitness. I think we had 17 PBs (personal bests) in our time trials and we were in really good shape,” Simpson added.

“We’ve had 20-plus injuries since then and 23 players have had COVID and we’re working really hard to get that fitness back. Absolutely, I can understand the criticism but we’re working really hard to get as fit as we can and as healthy as we can.”

West Coast take on Richmond on Friday night, with forward Josh Kennedy needing four majors to reach a 700-goal career milestone.

Kennedy enters the match at Optus Stadium on 696 goals, and he will become just the 25th player in AFL/VFL history to reach the 700 mark if he can snag four against the Tigers.

Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt is the most recent player to have reached the mark after booting his 700th goal last year, while retired Fremantle champion Matthew Pavlich hit the milestone in his 353rd and final AFL match in 2016.

with AAP

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