Kane Cornes says he would have ended his decorated AFL career if Port Adelaide hadn’t risen from their doldrums.
But last year’s resurgence under coach Ken Hinkley, who lifted Port to their first finals campaign in six years, convinced the 31-year-old to keep playing.
“If the side is going to keep finishing down the bottom of the ladder, then what’s the point – you may as well turn to younger players,” Cornes told reporters on Wednesday.
“But the ability to turn that around is probably the reason we’re still here.”
The career of Cornes appeared doomed in 2011 when he was out of favour with former coach Matthew Primus, but he refused to concede and won his fourth club champion award the next year.
The durable 271-game midfielder has started his 14th AFL season with renowned consistency – collecting 33, 30 and 20 disposals in three matches.
He said contributing on game day was a key factor in extending his career.
“Firstly, it’s about performance. If you’re performing at the level that you want to, that is number one,” he said.
“And then obviously it’s the profile of the group and do you have a role to play?
“It has worked out pretty well, still being able to perform. And the side is in a position where we could be challenging for finals and need that older experience, then I’ll hang around.”
Cornes and teammate Dom Cassisi are the only members of Port’s 2004 premiership side still playing.
The flag will be celebrated on Saturday when Port host Brisbane, the team they beat in the 2004 grand final.
“Life moves so quickly you don’t get a chance to reflect on things very often,” Cornes said.
“They (premierships) are really hard to win and any little advantage that you can get coming to training every day is an advantage that will add up.
“You take it for granted a little bit. The (2004 grand final) day was the best day of my life really … you just think it’s going to roll on and be happy days and you might win two or three.
“To now be in a position where we have a chance of challenging again, it does mean a huge amount.
“If we were still down the bottom and struggling, I think I probably would have retired by now.”