The Courier-Mail

BAD BOY BENNELL GETS BOOT

Troubled star dumped after drunken arrest

- ANDREW HAMILTON

PARTY boy Harley Bennell has become the biggest fish in trade week after being punted by the Suns for repeated indiscreti­ons.

The Suns were determined to trade Bennell when he justified their decision with his drunken arrest outside Sin City nightclub in Surfers Paradise about 1.45am on Monday.

The Suns say at least four clubs are keen on Bennell with the Kangaroos, Essendon and St Kilda believed to be among the main contenders.

Hawthorn, Melbourne and Brisbane have said they are not in the hunt.

Bennell’s availabili­ty during trade week has put renewed weight behind the push from the clubs to alter the AFL’s illicit drug policy to reveal players drug strike records.

It is understood Bennell received an automatic strike when pictures of him with drugs in a Tasmanian Hotel room were splashed across News Corp papers in July.

As one CEO told The Courier-Mail the existing rules protecting a players’ identity placed the clubs at risk.

“It’s scary, you don’t know what you’re bringing in, you may invest in a player for several years and then lose them if they get another strike,’’ he said.

Suns CEO Andrew Travis said he was confident the club would find a suitable trade but conceded the drug strike uncertaint­y was an issue.

“That is an issue the industry is discussing right now. The rules are, at the moment, the club won’t know,’’ he said.

“Certainly the discussion­s we have had today with his management, we are confident a trade will get done.’’

Travis was flanked by coach Rodney Eade and the leadership group when he confirmed Bennell had been told his days at the Suns were over.

Skipper Gary Ablett confirmed the players backed the administra­tion’s decision.

“It is obviously disappoint­ing, we all know how talented Harley is as a player,’’ he said.

“But we all know the expectatio­ns and we as a football club, we need to earn back the respect of everyone.

“As a club this is a step forward.

“It is tough, Harley is a mate of all the players.’’

We all know the expectatio­ns and we as a football club we need to earn back the respect of everyone GARY ABLETT

Bennell follows foundation Sun Charlie Dixon out of the door in a dramatic line in the sand off-season shake-up driven by football manager Marcus Ashcroft and Eade.

The Suns want two firstround draft picks for Dixon. Bennell’s value is less clear.

Bennell and Dixon were seen as two of the ringleader­s of a pack of players that were struggling to meet the standards of profession­alism.

The Suns had also become concerned at the influence the pair had over young players, in particular star second-year player Jack Martin.

Martin, who is a flatmate of Bennell’s, was suspended with Dixon for drinking the night before the loss to Hawthorn in Launceston in Round 9.

He was allegedly with Bennell when he was arrested but did not attract the attention of police. Brandon Matera and Greg Broughton were also there.

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