AFL pundit and former Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes has doubled down on his criticism of outgoing North Melbourne list manager Glenn Luff, saying he was ‘in the wrong sport’ if he wanted to avoid criticism for his recruiting and drafting.
Luff and two of his recruitment colleagues, national manager Mark Finnigan and national officer Ben Birthisel, walked out on the club earlier in the week, just one week prior the the midseason draft.
The Kangaroos stressed all three departures were very separate scenarios, but it is clear Luff’s resignation caught them off-guard.
Cornes was critical of Luff’s work, and Caroline Wilson reported on Channel 9’s Footy Classified that the criticism were big reasons why he decided to leave.
The former Port star tweeted a very sarcastic ‘recruiting going well at North’ and told the program, ‘You can’t pick players off a computer screen … Correct me if I’m wrong, I’d like to know one positive list management move they’ve made in the last four or five years’.
‘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 on Wednesday night.
‘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,’ said Wilson.
Glenn Luff (right) recently quit, with many citing his lack of support from the club, and his public criticism, major reasons for leaving
Cornes was having none of that, though, and on his regular SEN SA Breakfast spot, doubled down on his comments about Luff and the position of the Kangaroos, who currently sit at 1-9 after managing just four wins last season.
He slammed Herald Sun journalist Jon Ralph for calling his criticism a ‘hit job’ and as the result of a leak from the club, pointing out all his information came from the AFL Record’s Season Guide for 2022.
‘In this (season guide) you can go through every list decision they’ve ever made and it makes for shocking reading,’ he said on SEN.
‘If you’re the list manager of a footy club and you make that many errors on your list, and players that you bring in like (Jaidyn) Stephenson, (Atu) Bosenavulagi and (Callum) Coleman-Jones are not getting a game for the 17th ranked side in the competition, then we start to ask questions.
‘Now, if you’re a list manager and you want to be anonymous, you’re in the wrong game. So if Glenn Luff has walked away because of one reasonably benign comment…you’re in the wrong sport,’ said Cornes.
Kane Cornes has doubled down on his criticism of former North Melbourne list manager Glenn Luff
In a press conference at Arden Street earlier today, Kangaroos CEO Ben Amarfio admitted Luff not feeling supported by the club was one of the reasons the recruiter chose to quit, but affirmed he was confident the team is in a good place.
‘We were shocked about that, we were disappointed, and we would’ve loved to have kept him. I think there’s a number of reasons (he resigned) … and that’s one of them,’ he told the waiting media when questioned on the reports by Cornes and Wilson (among others) on Luff’s departure.
‘It’s not ideal losing three recruiters at this time of the year…but the work for the midseason draft is already done.
‘We spoke to the staff yesterday … they feel united, they feel happy. We do annual culture checks and engagement … and all of that tells us our staff are united and happy,’ said Amarfio.
Kangaroos CEO Ben Amarfio has come out in defence of his club’s culture
North coach David Noble, who himself has been under pressure after the side’s underwhelming start to the year, echoed Amarfio’s sentiments, and said while it was disappointing to lose some of the recruitment staff, it was onwards and upwards for the club.
‘Those three guys (Luff, Finnigan and Birthisel) have done an outstanding job for our footy club … but sometimes you lose good people.’
Former North Melbourne great David King said it was ‘hard to watch’ all the drama surrounding his former club
Two-time Kangaroos premiership player turned Fox Footy journalist David King also went into bat for Luff – though he admitted as someone personally invested in the club, it has been tough to watch their struggles on and off the field.
‘It’s hard to watch and see all of this unfold, I thought these times were behind them and that the turmoil of 18 months ago had passed. From a personal point of view you are really disappointed,’ he said on Fox Footy’s AFL360.
‘Glenn Luff, really unfair I thought on Monday night for Kane Cornes to single him out. He’s only 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 is grossly unfair, not one list decision is made by one person, it’s a collaborative decision. To squabble over the players that were picked and not in the team – that’s an all-in discussion,’ said King.
Jaidyn Stephenson is one of the players the recruitment staff brought over to the club over the last few years. Cornes singled him out as a mistake
King also elaborated on the struggles North face when compared to other clubs.
‘The North Melbourne Football Club don’t have the advantages of other clubs … it’s a country footy club playing AFL,’ he said on Wednesday night.
‘The facilities are not as good as the next ones … they’re not as wealthy a fanbase, the coterie support is not what it is elsewhere – there are challenges.
‘But what they have as an advantage is that they have always been people first. Everyone at the club, it doesn’t matter whether you are a player, assistant coach or receptionist, recruiter; you’re all on level terms … but I just had this sick feeling on Monday that that hadn’t been the case,’ said King.
The Roos will look to put the week’s off-field dramas behind them this Sunday afternoon when they take on a resurgent St Kilda side at Marvel Stadium.