The fallout continues from the booing of Port Adelaide young gun Jason Horne-Francis, with Chad Cornes saying he is too young for the abuse and has done nothing wrong.
Cornes, an assistant coach at Port, revelled in the abuse from opposition fans when he played for the Power.
But he said on Monday there was a big difference from dealing with it at 19 to when Cornes was a villain to opposition fans in his mid-20s.
“I didn’t start revelling in that until I was a bit older – I was 24-25 before that real hate from the Crows fans came towards me,” he said.
“The amount you learn from 19 to 24-25 is a lot.
“But I did love it.”
Port coach Ken Hinkley was fuming at the public treatment of the 19-year-old after Saturday night’s tight win over the Western Bulldogs.
First Hinkley went to Horne-Francis for an animated conversation on the ground immediately after the final siren.
Then Hinkley blasted fans and media in his post-game press conference, saying some people should be embarrassed by their behaviour.
Horne-Francis, the 2021 No.1 draft pick, left North Melbourne after one season to join Port.
He has not only been the topic of extensive media commentary but has also been targeted by booing from fans, including in Saturday’s game.
Cornes said Horne-Francis seemed to be coping with the attention, but like Hinkley was bemused by the public focus on him and said he hadn’t seen such a situation before.
“Where he is right now, he’s really resilient, it doesn’t seen to be bothering him. But again, I don’t understand it all,” Cornes said.
He praised Hinkley’s very public and passionate defence of the youngster.
“I’ve seen that a little bit behind closed doors. When Ken speaks with real passion, I love it,” Cornes said.
“He, like myself and like a lot of people, don’t understand why there’s so much attention on a 19-year-old kid who hasn’t done anything wrong except leave a club.”
Cornes’ younger brother Kane, also a former Port player and now a provocative AFL media commentator, has been strident in his defence of Horne-Francis.
Chad was asked on Monday if perhaps Kane’s comments had fuelled the fierceness of the debate around Horne-Francis.
“Kane has been really strong in his support of Jase and he’s gone quite hard at North Melbourne, so that obviously gets a bit of pushback from North Melbourne supporters,” Cornes said.
“But there are a few other prominent media figures who are the ones driving it a bit more than Kane – although at times, Kane can go a little bit overboard with his support of it.
“No doubt that does fuel it.”
Chad was also asked if he had considered asking his brother to tone down his public comments about Horne-Francis.
“It’s not my place. All-in-all he does a great job in the media,” he said.
Port have now scored two tight wins after their Showdown loss and Cornes described the last fortnight’s heroics as “gritty”.
“It showed a lot about the boys’ character and their want to win,” he said.
“Previous to last year, we really prided ourselves on winning those close games, but last year, a lot happens when you’re 0-5 – it’s hard to come back from there.”