North Melbourne staffer quits after Kane Cornes' TV comments

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Kane Cornes said the Kangaroos recruitment team needed to shoulder the blame alongside under-fire coach David Noble. Pic: Ch9/Getty
Kane Cornes said the Kangaroos recruitment team needed to shoulder the blame alongside under-fire coach David Noble. Pic: Ch9/Getty

New details have emerged around the crisis at AFL strugglers North Melbourne, with one former staffer reportedly quitting as a direct result of comments from pundit and former player, Kane Cornes.

Three of the club's recruiting staff have left a week out from the mid-season draft, plunging the embattled Kangaroos into fresh crisis.

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Ben Birthisel - who left the club last week - has been followed out the door by national recruiting manager Mark Finnigan and head of player personnel Glenn Luff.

With just one win from 10 games this season, coach David Noble's North Melbourne side is languishing in 17th on the ladder, with Cornes on Monday night insisting that the club's recruitment team were as much to blame as the under-fire coach.

“I’ve got some sympathy for David Noble because I don’t think he’s got the list that he needs,” Cornes told Nine's Footy Classified.

“This isn’t a coaching issue; this is a list issue.

“I’d love to ask the question: what’s one positive list management move they have made in the last three years?

“Their list manager is from Champion Data, he spent 20 years there, Glenn Luff, so I would think that’s an element that they saw as a strength of his.”

On Wednesday night on Footy Classified, Caroline Wilson and Eddie McGuire confirmed that those comments from Cornes proved to be the "final straw" for Luff at the club.

“My understanding is that Glenn Luff has resigned as a direct result of what happened on Footy Classified on Monday night, which speaks to the disenchantment and paranoia at North Melbourne at the moment,” Wilson said.

“Glenn Luff apparently has said to friends that this was the final straw for him. He believes that the comments about him might’ve been leaked … he might’ve been targeted by others at the club. Maybe the CEO, maybe one of the coaches, I’m not sure.

“Who leaves a football club on the basis of one negative comment if everything’s fine at the football club? Clearly, Glenn Luff feels that someone at the club is out to get him. That’s a bad scene.”

McGuire added: “He (Luff) did mention to me that there had been a build-up and that Kane’s comments were the tipping point for him."

“The simple fact is: Kane is entitled to sit there and say exactly what he said and name whoever because that’s what comes with the job. But also people are entitled to say this is too much for me, and if you’re not right for that for a million reasons, it’s time to go. It’s hot in the kitchen.”

However, Kangaroos great David King insisted on Fox Footy that Cornes’ comments abut Luff were “grossly unfair”.

“Glenn Luff — really unfair I thought on Monday night for Kane to single him out,” King said.

“He’s been there for three drafts and one of the drafts he got there four days before the draft, so you can’t really count that.

“To put his name to that I thought was grossly unfair. Not one list decision is made by one person.”

Seen here, North Melbourne coach David Noble looks on during an AFL game.
North Melbourne coach David Noble is a man under pressure after a woeful start to the season for the Kangaroos. Pic: Getty

North Melbourne plunged into fresh crisis

In the wake of the turmoil, North Melbourne CEO Ben Amarfio moved to calm the waters and insisted that the club was united from top to bottom.

However, club great Wayne Carey, who captained North's most recent premiership teams in 1996 and '99, expressed his concerns about their plight on Wednesday night.

"This is as low as this football club has been since I've known it," the commentator told Triple M.

"I don't think they are being completely honest with themselves because you can't improve until you actually acknowledge that we are broken.

"There is too much going on. You don't have people just resigning for no reason."

North Melbourne have not made the finals since 2016 and second-year coach Noble, their third mentor in four years, had to defend himself earlier this month after news broke of a post-game spray he gave his players.

"It's never great to be in the media for the wrong reasons and there's a lot of gossip that's being peddled, a lot of innuendo that gets peddled, which is disappointing," Amarfio said in a Kangaroos member Q&A recording on Wednesday.

"We know where we're at inside the club. We're united, we're tight. The players are happy, the staff's happy. The board is united behind us and we're backing management, we're backing our coach.

"So that (innuendo) is really disappointing and that affects us all, but as a team we're sticking together and we've got our eyes firmly set on the long term."

Amarfio stressed the club had been prepared for a difficult rebuilding process.

with agencies

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