Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes has issued a challenge to four of the AFL’s biggest stars to either prove their worth or take the next step in their game.
Starting with Brisbane’s Hugh McCluggage, Cornes said it was vital the Lions midfielder worked on his goal-kicking over the summer.
The 23-year-old, who was the runner-up in Brisbane’s club champion award this year, has emerged as one of the Lions’ brightest stars but has let himself down at times with his accuracy in front of goal.
“There’s only one aspect of his game that is a weakness and it’s his goal-kicking,” Cornes told Nine’s Footy Classified.
“Fifteen (goals), 22 (behinds) for the year and he’s kicked 64 (goals) 81 (behinds) on his career.
“You could argue it’s cost Brisbane a spot really late in the last couple of years, in September.
“He is that good. He’s got to sharpen that up and hire a goal-kicking coach.”
Next up was St Kilda’s Jack Billings.
Cornes said Billings, who last week signed a new four-year extension to remain with the Saints, would need to up his production to prove he’s worthy of his new contract.
The 26-year-old did improve his disposal average to 20 per game, but he didn’t make much noise at the club’s Best and Fairest awards night, which the Power legend said needs to change.
“He got a four-year deal – he didn’t deserve a four-year deal,” Cornes said.
“He didn’t finish in the top 10 of St Kilda’s best and fairest and for a player with that amount of talent is not good enough.
“I wouldn’t have given him four years but he got it.
“It’s over to him, how good does he want to be? I think he needs to spend more time in the midfield and increase his average disposals to above 20, way above.”
Meanwhile, Cornes lauded Sydney’s Isaac Heeney, who he believes can be a future Brownlow Medallist.
Heeney, 25, spent much of the year playing in Sydney’s forward line, in part due to his marking ability.
Cornes said he hopes Heeney improves on his fitness to become a permanent midfielder to tap into his next gear.
“I reckon he’s got another gear to go,” he said.
“We love what he does, but I think he needs to be (Clayton) Oliver, (Christian) Petracca and Ollie Wines.
“He’s 25 years of age and we’ve seen glimpses. I’m not sure how consistently we’ve seen it, but I think he can be a future Brownlow Medallist.
“He is that good. He needs a big summer and get super fit so he can spend more time in the midfield and have an impact around the footy and not just the forward lin like we saw this year.”
Lastly, Cornes took aim at the superstar Eagle Jeremy McGovern’s season.
McGovern, a four-time All-Australian defender and one of the AFL’s highest-paid players, has managed just 27 games over the past two seasons.
The 29-year-old has been hampered by injuries, this season battling a knee and hip injury.
“A really poor year from Jeremy McGovern,” Cornes said.
“You’re going to pay him nearly $1 million per season… this isn’t good enough.
“He’s symbolic of West Coast’s problems this year. A lot of players on big contracts who are comfortable.
“I would be challenging him on his skinfolds, losing weight and getting fitter because his body let him down. Not in West Coast’s top 10 for best and fairest isn’t good enough.
“He needs a massive pre-season.”
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