North Melbourne outcast Jared Polec's AFL career is well and truly at the crossroads and Kane Cornes says pictures from last weekend may have sealed his fate.
For the third game running Polec was left out of the Kangaroos squad as they suffered an 11th defeat in 12 games, courtesy of a 63-point hiding by Gold Coast.
Polec's omission came despite a mounting injury toll for the Roos.
DISTURBING: Wife's sad revelation about Danny Frawley death
ABOUT TIME: AFL's massive call after score review confusion
The 27-year-old signed a five-year deal to join the club at the end of 2018 and still has three years after this season to run on a contract reportedly worth around $700,000 per year.
In a move that Cornes has labelled "demeaning", Polec was pictured running around for Collingwood in a scratch match on Friday, in which he kicked three goals.
Cornes - the Port Adelaide legend - said it was "ridiculous" scenario to see the player involved in, considering North's struggles, their injury toll and Polec's exorbitant wages.
“To have three years to go on big money, it was a questionable acquisition at the time, now clearly the current regime... didn‘t have big say in recruiting Jared Polec,” Cornes said on Channel 9’s Footy Classified.
“It almost seems as though they‘re making a statement and saying, ’Well, this wasn’t our call, we didn’t pull the trigger on this’ and he’s paying the price for that.
“Is he really performing that bad? Now clearly they‘re worried about his defensive actions, but he was seventh in their best and fairest last year, that’s not a disaster, he’s averaging 20 disposals, three tackles and three clearances this year. His form isn’t that bad as opposed to some of the other players running around in the North Melbourne jumper.
"That's demeaning for any player."@kanecornes and the Footy Classified team react to vision of Jared Polec playing for Collingwood in a scratch match, and what North Melbourne should do with the high-profile recruit this off-season.#9FootyClassified | Watch @channel9 pic.twitter.com/IRXhzoJ4Gg— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) August 31, 2020
Roos remain coy on Polec’s future
“It is ridiculous the way that they‘re treating Jared Polec, because if you want to trade him what value is he running around for Collingwood in a scratch match?
“Put him in the side and get his value up and then at least deal with it in a mature way at the end of the season.”
North's performance against the Suns made Polec's omission even more baffling, with whispers growing that the 27-year-old might look to join his fourth AFL club at season's end.
Melbourne great Garry Lyon said the Roos' latest loss painted a "dire picture" and also questioned what the situation with Polec was about.
“I’d love to know what the Polec situation was. He’s playing for Collingwood in a 16-a-side practice match on $700,000. Hopefully some day we will find out.”
Despite Polec's continued absence in the Kangaroos squad and the speculation around his future, North Melbourne coach Rhyce Shaw refused to confirm that he was surplus to requirements at the club.
“I’m not going to be talking about Jared’s future or anybody else’s future at our footy club,” Shaw said on Sunday.
“That’s for internal conversations. We’re really comfortable with where we sit at the moment with our conversations … and Jared is contracted for three years. That’s where it sits at the moment.”