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Superstardom awaits Harley Bennell

Michael Whiting  January 3, 2013 9:24 AM

On the rise - Harley Bennell
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Harley Bennell shows all the signs of becoming a star

The type of player we think he will turn into, he is going to be like Gary
On the rise: Harley Bennell

At a glance: The brilliant half-forward/midfielder appears destined for superstardom. Though he only recently turned 20, he is already the Suns' second-best player (behind skipper Gary Ablett). Recruited from WAFL club Peel Thunder with the No. 2 selection in the 2010 NAB AFL Draft, Bennell has averaged 21 disposals and kicked 39 goals in his 36 AFL games. Runner-up to Ablett in the Suns' best and fairest and goalkicking awards in 2012, he has developed great consistency for a player so young and upon whom so much depends. He has come a long way since the trials of his debut 2011 season when he played just five of the Suns' opening 13 games, some of which he missed through club-imposed suspensions for disciplinary breaches. However, the apparently homesick prodigy returned to play the last nine games and finish equal-10th in the club award. His arrest in Mandurah on New Year's Day is worrying for both player and club, and something the Suns need to deal with earnestly.

Plays like: Perhaps very few before him. The Bennell package is a rare cocktail of genius and workmanship. Possesses blistering speed, ever-increasing endurance, superb ball-winning and ball-handling skills, astute decision-making skills and game sense, composure, high-quality disposal on both sides, uncanny goalsense, the ability to outrun and outplay taggers, good marking skills for his relatively light frame … etc., etc.

Killer quality: The trademark of most great players – an ability to hurt the opposition, regardless of where he takes possession of the ball. Even in the back third he can rapidly turn defence into attack with a scything run and a high-risk, high-reward kick through the corridor; and his potency forward-of-centre is obvious.

Best performance: Difficult to split two standout efforts in losing sides, both of which earned him three votes in the Brownlow Medal. The first was a 37-disposal, three-goal effort in the Suns' seven-point loss to Fremantle at Metricon Stadium in round six, while the second was a 38-touch, four-goal contribution in a seven-goal defeat to Melbourne at the MCG in round 19.

What they say: "He's a very proud person (and) a competitor – he reminds me a lot of (ex-West Coast great) Peter Matera. Just hates getting beaten, and Peter Matera had to learn that … I'd argue (Matera) was in the top five in the history of West Coast players. Harley can be that. What I saw in Peter Matera as a young boy I see in Harley Bennell … The type of player we think he will turn into, he is going to be like Gary (Ablett)" – Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna

Stats that matter:
Second in disposals (521 @ 23.7 per game)
Second in goals (25 @ 1.1 per game)
Second in inside 50s (81 @ 3.7 per game)
Second in rebound 50s (60 @ 2.7 per game)
Second in hardball gets (77 @ 3.5 per game)

AFL Fantasy: His price, like his popularity among Fantasy players, is sure to rise in 2013