Becoming an AFL senior coach was a massive step for Phil Walsh and Kane Cornes is taking some comfort in his long-time friend’s decision.
Cornes said Walsh, in his first season as Adelaide coach, had already shown he would have succeeded.
The newly retired Port Adelaide star is better qualified than most to talk about Walsh, after his murder on Friday.
Walsh was an assistant coach at Port for much of Cornes’ 300-game career and the pair became good friends.
Cornes told the ABC on Saturday he was proud of Walsh for deciding to coach the Crows.
For many years, Walsh had been adamant he did not want the pressure of a senior coaching job.
“In his words, which is quite symbolic now, he said ‘I don’t want to be on my death bed when I’m an 80-year-old and say I wish I’d taken that opportunity’,” Cornes said.
“I’m so happy he did it.
“He was extremely good at it – he stepped in with so much comfort.
“He can rest easy, knowing he was up to it and he would have made an amazing coach.”
Cornes and Walsh were kindred spirits – football fanatics who were obsessed about AFL success.
Amid the horror of what had happened, Cornes could laugh as he recalled their kinship.
“That’s why he was so good for me, because he’d been there and done that,” Cornes said.
“At times, maybe we weren’t healthy together because we’d stress over things or look at things too closely.
“But in a way, it just worked and I knew, when I spoke to him, he understood.
“We had just so many good times spent together.”
On Friday, Cornes made public a text that Walsh had sent him a few weeks ago when he decided to retire and become a firefighter.
Walsh told Cornes in the message to follow his heart.
But Walsh was also ready to pull Cornes into line if necessary.
In his own words, Cornes spat the dummy when he was taken off during a game last season.
He admitted to behaving like a spoiled brat and said Walsh later privately “gave it to me straight between the eyes”.
“When he spoke, you definitely listened.”
Walsh said when he arrived at Port, Walsh was the first person to welcome him to the club.
And a few days before the 2004 grand final, Walsh told Cornes he would play on Brisbane star Simon Black in the grand final.
He recalled Walsh telling him “if you do a good job, we’ll win”.
Cornes was among Port’s best as they won their first premiership.