Fremantle have fined troubled midfielder Harley Bennell $10,000 and ordered him to undergo counselling for his recent bizarre off-field behaviour.
The 24-year-old twice interrupted the three-quarter time huddle of Saturday’s WAFL match between Peel Thunder and Swan Districts to speak to his cousin Traye Bennell.
Harley Bennell met coach Ross Lyon, chief executive Steve Rosich, and football operations manager Chris Bond on Tuesday to discuss the incident.
Later that day, Fremantle released a statement revealing they had fined Bennell $10,000 – half of which had been suspended for 12 months.
Bennell has agreed to start seeing an external expert counsellor to help deal with personal issues.
The 81-game midfielder has been plagued by calf injuries since being traded at the end of 2015 from Gold Coast to Fremantle.
Yet to play a senior game for the Dockers, he was left devastated last month when another calf injury ruled him out for 10 more weeks.
Shortly after that setback, Bennell was ordered off a Virgin Australia flight, bound for the Gold Coast, after he was deemed to be intoxicated.
It is unclear whether alcohol was involved in Saturday’s incident at the WAFL game.
“With regard to his off-field conduct since his injury setback, it has been made clear to Harley what expectations the club and his teammates have and the standards and behaviours that need to be maintained,” Bond said in a statement.
Veteran AFL analyst Mike Sheahan predicts Bennell won’t play another match again at the top level, citing his injury history and litany of off-field behavioural problems.
But Lyon is confident Bennell will be able to return in about five or six weeks to WAFL ranks, before pushing for an AFL recall.
Lyon concedes Bennell is facing a personal struggle in dealing with the constant calf injuries that have halted his once-promising career.
“From the time he re-injured his aponeurosis (in his calf), after he absolutely dedicated himself, clearly he’s been devastated,” Lyon told Fox Footy.
“Now if you’re a professional player and potentially one of the best players in the land and you’ve dedicated yourself … and it implodes on you again 18 months in, people go through anger, frustration, denial, sadness and there’s no doubt, somewhere on that curve, he’s sitting.
“But he needs to gather himself and give it meaning and come out and reboot – that’s exactly where we’re at.”
Teammate Shane Kersten said Bennell still had the full support of the player group.
“He’s one of our brothers,” Kersten said.
“We’re not a club to go and hang our brothers out and leave them to dry.
“We’re fully behind him at the moment.
“He’s been in good spirits around the club the last few days.”
In 2015, Bennell’s career plunged into crisis when pictures emerged of him with lines of white powder.
The photos were taken in 2013.