When Kane Cornes steps out onto the Adelaide Oval this Saturday night against Sydney, it will be his 295th AFL match.
It also marks an astonishing 550 games for Port Adelaide between Kane and his older brother, Chad.
“We used to kick together in the warm-up and I’d always try to kick to him during games to the point where coaches used to tell me off for looking for him too much.” – kane cornes
Behind the Madden (710) and Nankervis (578) brothers, Chad and Kane – the sons of South Australian football figure Graham Cornes – will become just the third pair of brothers to reach the 550-game milestone.
Growing up three years apart and having their fathers competitive spirit, Kane says the boys were pretty full-on in the backyard.
“He was pretty brutal on me when we were little kids. We didn’t get along great and he used to punish me a fair bit,” Kane told AFLPlayers.com.au on the eve of the family milestone.
“So it was pretty testing for mum at times but our relationship got a lot better as we got older when he moved out of home and we weren’t living in each other’s pockets.”
Chad, 35, was the first to get drafted to the Power and after a breakout year in 2000, his younger brother was in the draft mix and hoping to stay in his home state.
But the Cornes brothers may have never been reunited at Alberton if Port coach Mark Williams had his way at the table on draft day. With the club having two picks inside the top 20, Kane says his career was close to playing out differently.
“I remember ringing ‘Choco’ before the draft, Port had picks 12 and 20, so I was pleading my case with why they should draft me and he told me they weren’t going to take me with their first pick.
“I thought I was probably going to be out of reach for their second pick but then pick 20 came around and I was still there and the recruiter and ‘Choco’ were having a big argument.
“Alan Stewart – the recruiter – wanted to take me and ‘Choco’ wanted to take someone else.”
Stewart reflected this week, “Kane tested very poorly at the draft camp. He was either the slowest or the second-slowest player there – but I saw some great qualities in him.”
As they say, the rest was history.
“Luckily Alan got his way and was able to convince Choco to pick me,” Cornes said.
Getting drafted to play alongside his brother in his home state was the best possible outcome for Kane, but there was one perceived downfall.
Port Adelaide had a rich history as one of the enemies of Glenelg and Adelaide Crows – both of whom have had serious alliances to their father.
Kane says his older brother was a bit conflicted early on before learning to embrace the ‘Showdown’ rivalry.
“I was just happy to play AFL and stay in my home state but I think it was a little bit hard for Chad in the early days.
“It’s really ironic, we both supported the Crows when we were younger and then dad got sacked so we didn’t really have a team to support after that.
“Chad had an interesting relationship with Adelaide supporters and he always played well in Showdowns. The supporters used to boo him but he always tried to stir them up. It was a great little battle within a battle.”
It didn’t take long for the brothers to taste some success. After a few years of near misses in finals, Kane and Chad played in a premiership together in 2004.
Port had another stellar year in 2007 culminating in the brothers both being named in the All-Australian side.
“We used to kick together in the warm-up and I’d always try to kick to him during games to the point where coaches used to tell me off for looking for him too much.
“I always knew where he was on the ground and had a feel for how he was going. I’d try to get him into the game so it certainly helped playing with him and he helped me. It was a good thing we had going for a bit there.”
Following the club’s lean years early in this decade, Chad joined Greater Western Sydney for their inaugural season in 2012.
He retired at the end of that season but still resides in Sydney.
“I speak to him pretty regularly though it’s a bit harder to see him nowadays. I still talk to him on the phone all the time and he loves my kids and they love their uncle Chad. Hopefully he comes back to live in Adelaide again one day.”
And while there’s no overriding rivalry between the brothers, it would seem a few best and fairest awards and an extra 40 games would see Kane get the bragging rights over his elder brother.
But that’s not the way their father sees it, according to Kane.
“Chad’s always been the favourite of dad’s but I just try and stir him up a bit and get under his skin with that one.”