LIONS DON’T WANT HIM EITHER
THE Brisbane Lions claim they are not in the hunt for Harley Bennell despite being the frontrunners to secure his close mate, highly rated Greater Western Sydney defender Nathan Wilson.
Former GWS welfare guru Craig Lambert will return to the Lions this week and will be plunged straight into a series of crisis meetings with players.
It had been put to Brisbane that Lambert and Wilson, who is almost certain to end up at the Gabba, could resurrect Bennell’s career.
But his priority is to stop a walk-out.
The Lions are in a fight to retain the services of Josh Green and Sam Mayes, and have not given up hope of convincing Jack Redden and James Aish to stay.
Brisbane’s fears there could be a mass exodus appeared to be materialising when Redden announced his desire to be traded last week.
Coach Justin Leppitsch has responded to feedback about his intimidating and aloof behaviour in recent weeks and has launched a charm offensive.
It is believed he visited Aish on Friday, the first time the pair have had meaningful discussions all year.
He also had a quiet few beers with Redden late in the week, and it is believed some differences were settled.
Redden has not changed his mind but Lambert, who is a close confidant, will make another attempt to dissuade him from leaving.
After a day of player reviews yesterday, the Lions revealed Stefan Martin and Dayne Zorko had assured them they intend to stay at the AFL club.
Green has been linked to his former coach at Clarence in Tasmania, Brendan Bolton, who has taken over at Carlton.
The livewire forward led the club’s goalkicking last year but appeared to fall out of favour this season where he played 16 games for 25 goals.
Lions chief executive Greg Swann said Green was highly regarded by the club.
“We like him, we want to keep him,’’ Swann said.
The Mayes situation is a sensitive one given the Lions’ appalling record at retaining top 10 draft picks.
Swann said the player had not requested a trade but admitted he had outlined some of his reservations about the club.
He admitted he had heard rumours Mayes may want out.
Both Mayes and Green are contracted.
Mayes was a top 10 pick in the 2012 draft, where the Lions selected him with their first pick, No.8.
If Aish and Matthew Leuenberger both leave, it would take to seven the number of top 10 picks to depart the club since 2009.
Mayes would make it eight, following Jared Brennan (3), Lachlan Henderson (8), Mitch Clark (9), Jared Polec (5) and Billy Longer (8), who all left under Michael Voss or Leppitsch.