Nathan Buckley and Kane Cornes have had a tense on-air stoush over the response to Collingwood star Jordan de Goey's head-high bump on West Coast's Elijah Hewett over the weekend. De Goey is staring down a ban of three weeks or more after being referred directly to the AFL tribunal for the bump, which left the Eagles player concussed and out for the remainder of the game late in the first quarter.
Having come under heavy criticism from the moment he made the bump, De Goey was defended by his former coach Buckley on Monday morning, who suggested the reaction had been 'over the top'. In doing so however, Buckley raised some eyebrows by describing the hit, which was well and truly late after Hewett had disposed of the ball, as a 'football action'.
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Buckley mainly took issue with Cornes' description of the hit as a 'weak act'. The incident was graded severe contact, the highest possible, as well as careless and high.
Crucially, de Goey is all but certain to miss Collingwood's massive King's Birthday clash against Melbourne as a result. While Buckley accepted that it was the kind of hit the AFL was trying to eradicate from the game, his discussion with Cornes was certainly a tense one.
"He definitely deserves to be up at Tribunal and he’ll get the weeks that he deserves. For mine it’s a three, but I think the reaction post this incident has been over the top,” Buckley said during the segment discussing it on SEN Breakfast.
“I thought it was a football action, it was an instinctive football action. It’s one not accepted in the game now. There was no raised elbows or real jumping off the ground.
“You (Cornes) made a comment about you thought it was ‘weak.’ Yeah, nah, I don’t agree with you at all.”
Jordan De Goey has been sent directly to the tribunal for this bump on Elijah Hewett. pic.twitter.com/8MF5IxSsH2
— AFL (@AFL) June 4, 2023
Cornes said Buckley was being 'lenient' on his former player, arguing that someone of De Goey's experience and ability had every other option available to him instead of bumping Hewett. The Collingwood midfielder has been among the Brownlow Medal frontrunners in the first half of the season, a prospect now all but ruled out.
“This guy (De Goey) is a skilful player who can turn on a dime, pick the ball up and snap it over his shoulder and we go: ‘How good’s that?’” Cornes said. In the moment, he’s got options – he can tackle and he can corral.
"(It was) A defenceless player who’s gotten rid of the ball and he jumps off the ground and smashes his shoulder into his head.”
Nathan Buckley gets into it with Kane Cornes over De Goey bump
Safe to say, this assessment did not wash with Buckley. He pushed back on Cornes' suggestion that Hewett was 'defenceless', to which Cornes hit back saying Hewett was only 18 and not expecting to be bumped.
Buckley quickly shot back, saying that anyone on an AFL field should be expecting contact at any time, as well as lambasting Cornes' suggestions that it was unwarranted given the ladder-leading Magpies were up against the injury hit, bottom of the table Eagles.
“You tried to wrap up the fact that Jordy shouldn’t have had that contest against that opposition because they're lowly ranked," he said. “It’s not going to be part of the calculation.
"As a coach, I want my players to go out and play on edge all the time. A guy like Jordy De Goey, who’s a physical beast and does play on the edge and with aggression. The way you played and what you think is weak, would be different to what he thinks was weak.”
Viewers took a dim view of the incident, with many AFL fans insisting that a three-game ban should be the minimum for De Goey after a hit that sparked widespread backlash. Whatever the suspension ban ends up being, it spells the end of De Goey's Brownlow medal hopes.
"I hope the young lad (Hewett) is OK," Collingwood coach Craig McRae said afterwards. "That's where our concern goes to. Jords is a fair player and the rules will be the rules.
"It's split seconds, isn't it? Do I go in and tackle, or do I bump or smother? He's a great kid Jordy (De Goey). I don't know how he is personally, emotionally after the game, but he's a fair player and I think history will show that."
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