Enigmatic midfielder Harley Bennell has returned to Victoria to join Port Melbourne as he tries to mount a third comeback bid in the AFL.
The former Gold Coast No.2 pick, who played 81 games for the Suns before managing only seven more at Fremantle and Melbourne, will play in the VFL in 2023, his new club announced on Thursday.
The 30-year-old retired at the end of 2020 in controversial circumstances after Melbourne was fined $50,000 and he received a four match ban for leaving his side’s Gold Coast hub in breach of the AFL’s Covid protocols.
He has been playing for the Tiwi Bombers in the NTFL and was instrumental in the league representative side’s win over South Fremantle in Darwin late last month.
Port Melbourne football manager Glenn Balmforth said Bennell still had a “desire to play at the highest level he can”.
“For us to have the opportunity to bring to our club someone of Harley’s calibre with his experience and on-field ability at this stage in the pre-season is very exciting, and we can’t wait for him to get down to Melbourne and get started,” Balmforth said.
It is understood Bennell wants to complete the season with the Tiwi Bombers and move to Victoria
Bennell initially lived up to the hype of his high draft pick at the Suns, starring in his second year as he played all 22 games, averaging 24 disposals and booting 25 goals for the season.
He was traded to Fremantle at the end of the 2015 season, but his time at the Dockers was plagued by calf injuries and his only two games for the club came in 2017.
Melbourne took a chance on Bennell at the start of the 2020 season by taking him as an SSP selection, but despite showing glimpses of his ability he was unable to return to his early career form.
Story Credit: foxsports.com.au