A decision on the immediate playing future of drug-tainted Gold Coast midfielder Harley Bennell will be made in the coming days, coach Rodney Eade says.
Bennell is waiting on what, if any, sanctions he’ll face after photos of him in a Tasmania hotel room in March 2013 allegedly using illicit drugs were published across the country last week.
The 22-year-old was stood down from last Saturday’s 55-point AFL win over North Melbourne in what was essentially a welfare decision, but could face a longer stint on the sidelines if the club suspends him.
Eade said several key parties likely including Bennell and the AFL Players Association would have final discussions about the situation on Wednesday, though the coach himself was not involved.
“It is good that they kept me out of that. I’m only getting little bits here and there,” Eade told Melbourne radio station SEN on Wednesday.
“I think there’s quite a few stakeholders having discussions, including medical.
“We’ve got to work out what’s best for Harley, and also best for everyone concerned.”
Eade expressed a desire for Bennell, who is contracted until the end of 2017, to remain at the club beyond this year.
“From my point of view I want Harley to stay, he said.
“I’ll be working heavily with Harley, we get along really well and we’ve got a good relationship.
“He needs to commit to the group and what we stand for.”
The Suns coach conceded the franchise had gone through a “torrid” time with off-field problems and injuries, but could see the light at the end of the tunnel after a strong showing against the Kangaroos.
He also rejected suggestions the Gold Coast is a hazardous environment that presents negative temptations for young players.
“I think it can get overplayed a bit … lifestyle can happen anywhere,” Eade said.
“There are temptations, things that can go wrong with any city … I don’t think there’s any more temptation here than anywhere else.”
Eade also recommitted himself to the side, saying he is in for his full contract until the end of 2017 and hopes to “roll on even further”.