Sun in bid to save his ca­reer at club

Ben­nell on mis­sion

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - AN­DREW HAMIL­TON

HAR­LEY Ben­nell will to­day be­gin a seven- week mis­sion to sal­vage his ca­reer at the Suns.

The Gold Coast have put Ben­nell’s drugs scan­dal be­hind them and wel­comed him back into the team to take on the Crows at the Ade­laide Oval to­day.

The photos of Ben­nell with drugs and strip­pers in a Tas­ma­nian ho­tel will not cost him his ca­reer. As far back as last sum­mer, be­fore the photos emerged, Suns of­fi­cials were de­bat­ing his fu­ture at the club be­cause it ap­peared he was not com­mit­ted enough to his football and his team­mates.

There was con­cern at his propen­sity to float in and out of games, his de­par­ture from a player who would win his own footy to one who al­lowed team­mates to do the heavy lift­ing, his fail­ure to com­ply with team rules and his poor de­fen­sive prac­tices. The drink­ing ban and the drugs scan­dal just added to frus­tra­tions.

How­ever, there is a grow­ing view the scan­dal may have pro­vided the turn­ing point the prodi­giously tal­ented 22- yearold needed.

Coach Rod­ney Eade said be­cause the photos were taken in 2013, he had never felt per­son­ally let down by the player.

His take on the sit­u­a­tion was Ben­nell should be judged on how he re­sponded to the neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity.

He passed that mark with a con­trite round of in­ter­views dur­ing the week and will now be judged on his pro­fes­sion­al­ism and com­mit­ment to the cause.

“We don’t ex­pect him to be the best player, we just want him to do his job,’’ Eade said.

“We just want him to con­trib­ute as a team player. His form in the twos last week was ter­rific, he’s trained well, I think he’s in a rea­son­able head space.’’

Eade said he had been pleased with the changes he had ob­served in the star mid- fielder over the three weeks he sat out footy.

“We all make mis­takes,” Eade said. “It’s a rea­son­ably big mis­take, but it was two- and- ahalf years ago.

“For me, we’ve moved on and it’s more about the wel­fare of the per­son. There’s a fair bit of con­tri­tion there.

“He likes his team­mates, he wants to be in­volved, and you can see there’s been re­spon­si­bil­ity taken and he ac­knowl­edges what he needs to do.”

Char­lie Dixon also re­turns from an an­kle in­jury to­day for the Suns.

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