In AFL retirement, Kane Cornes is finally getting his dues.
“The support over the past week … has blown me away,” Port Adelaide’s Cornes told reporters on Friday.
Cornes, understated and perhaps under-rated for most of his career, will play his 300th and final AFL match on Sunday, against Richmond at Adelaide Oval.
He knows his emotions will run riot at his farewell fixture.
He is, after all, a footy-mad kid who grew into a footy-mad man. It took him years to learn how to switch off from the game.
“Sunday will be an opportunity to say thank you to all the people who have supported me over 15 years,” he said, adding he’s ordered about 50 tickets for family.
Cornes’ tunnel-visioned approach helped him collect a stunning personal honour board.
He’s a 2004 premiership player, some rate unlucky not to have won the Norm Smith Medal as best-afield in the grand final.
He’s a four-time Port club champion, and remarkably finished top three in the award 10 times – under three different coaches.
Cornes is Port’s games-record holder, a dual All Australian who in nine seasons topped the club’s most disposals list.
The 32-year-old’s durability is a feat given he was tossed on the scrapheap and dropped by former coach Matthew Primus in 2011.
His pride stung, Cornes responded by not only regaining selection but winning the next year’s club champion award again – and outlasting Primus, who was sacked before the end of the 2012 season.
Three years on, Cornes is retiring mid-season to become a fireman – if he passes two training courses.
His retirement also ends direct AFL links with one of SA football’s family royalty.
His brother Chad, also a dual All Australian, premiership-winner, played 255 AFL games; their father Graham played 317 games and coached two premierships in the SANFL before becoming the Adelaide Crows’ inaugural coach.