Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes has called out Richmond captain Trent Cotchin for “not doing enough” amid the Tigers’ lacklustre start to the season, declaring he’s being outperformed by other senior midfielders and has “fallen off a cliff”.
Richmond, who are chasing a third flag in a row, won just three of their first six games and have slipped to seventh on the ladder after Saturday’s 34-point loss to Melbourne at the MCG.
Damien Hardwick’s men won just three of their first six games of last season, losing two and drawing one, before recovering to win a third premiership in four years.
But Cornes says Cotchin, who’s averaging just 19.8 touches per match this season, must lift his game amid superstar Dustin Martin’s dip in form and the absence of key midfielder Dion Prestia (calf). Ball-winner Kane Lambert (calf) is also on the sideline.
“If they are going to (turn it around) I think they need more from their captain, Trent Cotchin. Now we all admire Trent and if he finished today he’s a walk-up Hall of Famer and we particularly love the way that he changed the game,” Cornes said on Nine’s Footy Classified.
“But watching him go against the best midfielders in the game on the weekend – (Clayton) Oliver, (Christian) Petracca, (Jack) Viney and (Angus) Brayshaw – he isn’t doing enough.
“With Martin down on form and Prestia out you can’t have your captain touching it and kicking it five times. He had 12 disposals.”
Cotchin hasn’t won as much of the footy as a host of other veteran on-ballers this season, including Port Adelaide warrior Travis Boak (28 disposals per match), Sydney bull Josh Kennedy (25.7) and evergreen Docker David Mundy (25.5).
“You compare him to the older midfielders in the game and what they are doing – Trent has changed his game but he’s got to be getting more of the footy,” Cornes said.
“He’s been a more defensive player and he hasn’t got those high numbers.
“When Martin’s having eight (disposals) and Prestia’s not playing and the best midfield teams have four to five A-grade midfielders, he needs more than that.”
Cornes says it’s easy to look past Cotchin’s rocky season start because of his magnificent record. The 31-year-old is a three-time premiership captain, a three-time best-and-fairest winner, a Brownlow medallist and an All Australian.
“He’s not doing enough (to lead his side right now),” Cornes said.
“It’ll be overlooked because of what he’s done in the past and his record, but right now he needs to lift when the others around him aren’t.”
Footy Classified host Craig Hutchison pointed out that Cotchin hadn’t been a prolific ball-winner for several seasons, suggesting that disposal numbers aren’t a genuine indicator of his performance.
Cornes struck back.
“He’s sensed the moment, though, I reckon,” Cornes said.
“In pivotal moments he’s lifted. I didn’t see him do that on Friday night and I haven’t seen him do it this year and I think his numbers have fallen off a cliff this year.”