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Trading Dixon, Bennell a "big step forward" for Suns: Malceski

Football

Gold Coast Suns stalwart and Sydney premiership hero Nick Malceski has taken a parting pot-shot at former teammates – including Port Adelaide marquee forward Charlie Dixon – saying his departure represented a “big step forward” for the Queensland franchise.

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The Power were determined to recruit the bustling big-man, finally parting with a first and future-second-round draft pick in a three-way-deal after a protracted standoff with the Suns.

But Malceski, who like the Suns themselves is returning to form this year after a disappointing 2015, has suggested Gold Coast were pleased to see the back of Dixon and trouble-prone midfielder Harley Bennell, both of whom were disciplined for off-field indiscretions last year.

Bennell was traded to Fremantle, but is yet to play a game and could be sidelined indefinitely with a persistent calf complaint.

Malceski, who kicked the winner in the Swans’ 2012 Grand Final victory over Hawthorn, told AFL.com.au the departure of both players highlighted the cultural change that has turned around the Suns’ flagging fortunes, emphasised by a 2-0 start to the year.

“We made a statement last year moving on Charlie and Harley… I think that was a big step forward for the club,” he said.

“The word culture gets thrown round a fair bit, but we’ve been working on stuff inside the inner sanctum and things we want to be known for and things we want to improve, and it starts on the training track… we’re harder trainers now.

“The boys are starting to understand what you need to do to be an AFL player [and] that’s really taken a step forward.”

Dixon kicked three goals in his first outing for the Power against St Kilda, but was held goalless against the Crows last weekend.

Gold Coast this week re-signed gun forward Tom Lynch to a new two-year deal, reportedly worth around $800,000 a season, that commits him to the franchise until the end of 2018.

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