Former AFL stars David King and Kane Cornes remain firmly at odds with one another over commentary surrounding Port Adelaide recruit Jason Horne-Francis, the culmination of a weeks-long slanging match. The pair have spent much of the week bickering after Horne-Francis, who was traded from North Melbourne to Port Adelaide, was roundly booed during the AFL's Gather Round in his home state last weekend.
Horne-Francis, the No.1 pick in the 2021 AFL draft, endured a calamitous rookie season with North Melbourne that ended with him demanding a move away from the Kangaroos. He landed at the Power, a welcome return to South Australia for the 19-year-old.
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His trade was preceded by a substantial amount of criticism throughout his season with the Kangaroos, including being dropped from the side prior to what would have been his first AFL game in his home state in front of friends and family. Cornes, a premiership player for the Power in 2007, had chastised AFL fans after the Gather Round for booing Horne-Francis, after it happened again earlier in the season against Collingwood.
Those comments condemning the boos attracted the attention of King, who accused Cornes of whipping up unnecessary criticism of Horne-Francis in the past. What followed was nearly a week-long tit-for-tat before the pair joined SEN Radio on Friday morning to hash things out.
However things went sideways when, during the 25-minute long segment, King expressed his displeasure at a compilation of clips showing commentators critical of Horne-Francis that was presented by Cornes on Channel 9 program Footy Classified. King said Cornes had 'misrepresented' his comments, which were made in the middle of last year after Horne-Francis appeared to brush off Kangaroos ruckman Todd Goldstein.
“Can I finish what I’m saying?" King asked. "The facts were that I spoke about that when he refused to speak to Todd Goldstein. Nobody from Port Adelaide had a problem with it then. I didn’t hear (Port Adelaide coach) Ken Hinkley come out and say, ‘Hey listen, lets back off these 18-year-olds’.
“So it’s all about the jumper they wear. Ken wants to speak up for his player. I have no issue with that. If he wants to say I’m too harsh I have no issue with that. The fact that your producer couldn’t find anything I said from this year. It should have been alarm bells.”
— SEN 1116 (@1116sen) April 20, 2023
However the discussion unravelled even further when King played a selection of his own clips, prompting an accusation of 'unbelievable hypocrisy' from Cornes. “You’ve gone and done the same thing,” Cornes said.
“The hypocrisy of this is unbelievable. You’ve just had a crack at me for playing historical audio and you’ve done exactly the same.”
Footy fans however, were largely unimpressed by the spectacle. Many accused Cornes of furthering the issue to create headlines, with King also subject to similar criticism.
— Dylan McEvoy (@DylanMcEvoy) April 20, 2023
Possibly the least interesting thing about footy: big egos in the media making themselves the centre of the story. Cornes is a master of self promotion, but says little of value about football itself.
— matty (@GusGguuss) April 21, 2023
More confected controversy to get the clicks happening.I'd sooner pull my teeth out with a pair of pliers than watch this crap
— Cameron Bennett (@ClubInCrisis) April 21, 2023
It’s like 2 petty criminals blaming each other for a crime they committed together.
— AFHell - A bankrupt VFL in disguise (@AF_Hell) April 20, 2023
Well done, guys. Amazing performance. Just need Hutchy to dress up as Vince McMahon now.
— the idiot tax (@TheIdiotTax) April 21, 2023
AFL greats in spiteful discussion over Jason Horne-Francis criticism
Further barbs were traded, including Cornes accusing King of not listening to the entire three-hour show in which Horne-Francis was discussed last year, as well as Cornes doubling down on his usage of the 'icebaths' hashtag on social media, which he began to do after North Melbourne disciplined Horne-Francis for skipping a post-game ice bath and recovery.
King said persisting with the hashtag was 'juvenile', saying he simply wanted Cornes to understand that his commentary had, in part, contributed to their disdain shown towards Horne-Francis this season. The saga has left Power coach Ken Hinkley unimpressed, defending their talented recruit after their win last weekend.
Fellow former player turned commentator Nathan Buckley said earlier in the week that neither Cornes nor King had showcased the best of AFL commentary. He said there was absolutely room to be critical of players, but the commentary had become drawn out in this instance.
“It shouldn’t have anything to do with the media or the personalities within it,” Buckley told Cornes on SEN Breakfast. “It shouldn’t have anything to do with you. It shouldn’t have anything to do with Kingy, who has North Melbourne blood coursing through his veins.
“And you, who has Port Adelaide blood coursing through your veins. In the end you’re going to be biased towards the connections you have.
“And in between it all, you have this kid, who Ken Hinkley rightfully says has every right to develop and grow as a footballer and in his own time and in his own way."
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