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Sanctioned Bennell "needs to win back respect"

Football

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says it would be a terrible shame if Harley Bennell is lost to the game, but told the troubled midfielder he needs to win back respect at the AFL club.

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Bennell was fined $10,000 and ordered to undergo counselling following his bizarre behaviour while watching a WAFL game last Saturday.

The 24-year-old twice interrupted the three-quarter time huddle of the match between Peel Thunder and Swan Districts to speak to his cousin Traye Bennell.

It’s unclear whether Bennell was intoxicated at the time.

Half of the $10,000 fine has been suspended for 12 months.

Last month, Bennell was kicked off a Gold Coast-bound flight before it departed because he was intoxicated.

Bennell’s seven-year AFL career has been blighted by a series of off-field misdemeanours.

The most serious of the lot came in 2015 when he was linked to drug use after photos emerged of him with lines of white powder.

The photos were taken in 2013.

Lyon said he’ll continue to support Bennell through his tough time.

“It would be a terrible shame, wouldn’t it, to lose a young indigenous footballer in this country of this level of talent,” Lyon told Channel 7.

“We’ve seen too much of that occur, so we’d really like to support him and let him shine.

“If anything it’s been self-harm that Harley’s been involved with… it’s not great for Harley more than anyone else.

“We all slip up and obviously he’s had a couple but it’s all been based around devastation (from his calf injury).

“He needs to pick himself up off the canvas, dust himself off and recommit and show the reasons why we got him here in the first place.

“He’s been able to earn – over a fair period of time – a level of respect but obviously that has slipped.

“He needs to earn that back.”

Bennell has been grounded by serious calf issues throughout his time at the Dockers.

He is yet to play a senior match for the club, but Lyon is hopeful Bennell will be able to return to WAFL duties in about five or six weeks.

-AAP

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