Costa denies `bag Ben' plot

GEELONG president Frank Costa has strongly dismissed a reported club board-level approach to boost Ben Graham's form.  
Wednesday, May 15
Geelong Advertiser

GEELONG president Frank Costa said he couldn't believe a board member would stoop to solicit bad press on club skipper Ben Graham to try and turn his form around.

It was revealed yesterday on Channel Nine that a board member concerned with Graham's form approached Geelong Advertiser columnist Dwayne Russell earlier this season to write an unflattering article.

``In my opinion I don't believe that could be possible,'' Costa said last night.

``I don't know anything about it but I can't believe it.''

Russell said yesterday that the desperate measure by a ``high ranking club official'' was well intentioned.

``They're just totally exhausted I think, (Mark) Thompson as well, by their search for an answer to turn his form around,'' Russell said.

``One of the options asked was whether or not to openly criticise him and just be honest with their disappointment and I said if I thought it would work long term then I would have written about it in my column,'' Russell said.

``I didn't think it would be beneficial and after explaining it to the person they didn't see it as beneficial either.''

Russell said the club would be better served by employing a personal coach to work with Graham.

``They need to get someone inside his head, someone he is prepared to work with,'' Russell said.

Geelong coach Mark Thompson said Graham would feel stung by the criticism levelled at him in recent weeks and was confident he could turn his form around.

``He feels the criticism and I'm sure he'll come out and play reasonable footy soon,'' he said at training yesterday.

Thompson said he was determined to stick with Graham on the forward line and was tired of calls to push him back into defence.

``I'm sick of all that conversation,'' he said.

``The fact is we've got two defenders playing some pretty good football and another couple of young blokes who are going to play key position back and Ben is going to play forward.''

He said Graham had kicked 10 goals from seven games, which put him on track to kick about 30 for the season.

``I'm sure he's going to have bigger hauls,'' he said.

``I'm sure he's going to put some of the goals away in the future that he's missed and I'm sure he's going to come out at some stage and have a five (goal game) and a six and a four in three consecutive weeks and get his tally up to 40,'' he said.

Thompson said Ronnie Burns would be a definite starter this weekend against Port Adelaide but that midfielder Glenn Kilpatrick would miss another week.