KANE CORNES has become the first footballer to be officially investigated for staging. Although the 27-year-old has escaped without sanction, Port Adelaide believe he has been placed on notice by the match review panel and could be targeted as a repeat offender.The incident that caught the eye of the AFL’s independent investigator happened in the opening minutes of Sunday’s round-four clash with Geelong at Skilled Stadium in which Cornes fell to the ground after allegedly clashing with Corey Enright.Port were contacted by the AFL on Monday and Cornes was called in by football staff at the club and shown the vision in which the midfielder initially threw his head backwards and then collapsed to the ground. He was not given a free kick.Both player and club insisted, upon examining behind-the-goal vision, that Enright had made contact. The match review panel determined the vision was inconclusive.Cornes was one of four footballers singled out by the AFL umpiring department in its pre-season DVD on rule changes and interpretations.The Herald understands Cornes was also looked at but not officially investigated by the panel following an incident in the round-two game against West Coast. At least one North Melbourne player has also been scrutinised unofficially for staging – one of several footballers looked at this season under the new rules.The rule stipulates that a player found to have staged for a free kick or 50-metre penalty would receive a warning in writing. A second offence would bring a $1600 fine, reduced to $1200 with a guilty plea.The AFL announced in an interestingly worded statement that Cornes had been investigated but not found guilty due to lack of evidence. Media relations manager Patrick Keane’s weekly match review panel report stated: ”The panel said that given the vision available, it could not determine as to whether the player was bumped to the ground, or fell to the ground.” Neither the AFL nor Port Adelaide would comment last night, although the unofficial view from the club was that Cornes could now face constant scrutiny.
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