Bennell wants to stay with Suns in AFL

Gold Coast midfielder Harley Bennell has apologised for his scandal and insists he wants to stay at the AFL club.

Bennell has spoken publicly for the first time since photos were published nationwide of him appearing to use an illicit substance in a Tasmanian hotel room in 2013.

The club stood him down, but he will return in Saturday’s away match against Adelaide.

Bennell said the scandal took a massive toll on him and his family.

He added it broke his heart to call his mother and siblings.

Since the story broke, there has been speculation that Bennell might leave the Suns at the end of this season.

“I don’t want to go anywhere else,” Bennell told Channel Nine’s The Footy Show.

“They’ve had faith in me for the last five years.

“I’ve had some ups and downs, some hiccups on the way – I’m ready to repay the football club for sticking by me.

“I want to put my head down, bum up and work hard, not worry about talent.

“I want to show the football world what I’m really about.”

He said the hardest moment in the wake of the photos being made public was telephoning his family.

“When I was young, I always told her I hated drugs and for her to look (at) the front page of the Herald Sun and see her son with four lines in front of him – it’s not a good look,” he said.

“Especially for my baby sister, it broke her heart.

“It broke mine as well.”

Bennell also said he did not have a drugs problem and that was also the case when the photos were taken.

“It was just a stupid decision,” he said.

“I just made some poor choices in my life – I put my hand up and take full responsibility.

“Going out, having drinks, going nightclubbing – that’s one’s thing I have to take away for my life outside of football.”

Bennell said his AFL career was at the crossroads when the photos were published.

It was the latest in a series of off-field controversies that have tainted his time at the Suns.

“There are a few things I have to fix up in my life off-field, which I’m capable of doing,” he said.

“I actually spoke to Marcus (Gold Coast football manager Marcus Ashcroft) over the phone to see if I still had a contract and he said yeah, they’re going to put faith in me.

“So I’m going to have to put faith back in the football club and hopefully turn my career around.

Bennell used to share a house with Karmichael Hunt and he strongly defended his former teammate, saying his problems were his own making.

“Karmichael is like my … brother,” he said.

Bennell spoke to his teammates on Thursday morning.

“They will always have my back and I will always have theirs,” he said.

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