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Troubled Sun Harley Bennell heads home to become a Docker

Alex Malcolm  October 14, 2015 2:38 PM

Get excited by: Harley Bennell The 23-year-old is ready to explode on the grand stage with the Dockers
AFL 2015 Rd 18 - Gold Coast v West Coast

Harley Bennell has joined Fremantle after five years at Gold Coast

My main focus now is to knuckle down and have a solid pre-season over the coming months

• Draft order: Your club's provisional picks
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FREMANTLE has secured controversial midfielder Harley Bennell on a three-year deal after a trade with Gold Coast.

Bennell had nominated Fremantle as his club of choice after parting ways with the Suns.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Dockers announced they had sent draft picks 16 and 35 to the Suns in exchange for Bennell and pick No.22.

Bennell told Fremantle's website he was delighted to be heading back to WA.

"I'm excited about returning home to WA and joining Fremantle," Bennell said.

"I want to thank the Gold Coast for drafting me and the support they have offered me during my time at the club.

"My main focus now is to knuckle down and have a solid pre-season over the coming months."

Bennell was cut from the Suns after an off-field incident in September, when he allegedly slapped a cigarette out of the mouth of a bouncer outside a nightclub.

He was charged by police and then later settled a public nuisance charge out of court.

The September 6 incident was the last straw in Bennell's troubled time with the Suns.

In July he was given a fine and a three-game suspended ban by the Suns after photos of him appearing to use illicit drugs at a Tasmanian hotel in 2013 were published nationwide.

The West Australian product had also been stood down for a match earlier in the year after breaching team alcohol protocols.

The incidents ensured Gold Coast put Bennell up for trade, with Fremantle pouncing on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old had meetings with a number of Freo's hierarchy before the deal was finalised, including chief executive Steve Rosich, senior coach Ross Lyon, football manager Chris Bond and list manager Brad Lloyd, as well as members of the leadership group.

Lloyd told the club's website the Dockers were confident that Bennell would prove to be a good recruit.

"We're happy to have secured Harley's services on a three-year term," Lloyd said.

"Club staff and players have met with Harley over the past few weeks and we're confident he will be a valuable acquisition."

Bennell played 92 games with Gold Coast after being recruited with pick No.2 in the 2010 NAB AFL Draft.

Despite only playing 15 games in 2015, he still polled the most Brownlow votes of any Suns player with seven.

Gold Coast general manager of football operations Marcus Ashcroft said the club had secured maximum market value for Bennell.

"We have done the best deal possible for the Gold Coast Football Club and as a result have significantly strengthened our draft position,” he said.

"As a club we’ve taken the steps necessary to build a strong culture on and off the field, and the players led by the leadership group, understand the expectations of representing the club and the Gold Coast community."

The acquisition of Bennell may hinder Fremantle's desire to trade for GWS key forward Cameron McCarthy.

Earlier this month, the Giant's manager said Fremantle was set to offer its first-round picks in the next two drafts to secure McCarthy.