Carey helps Ben out

Ben Graham  
Monday, May 20

DISGRACED AFL star Wayne Carey has offered words of advice to help drag embattled Geelong skipper Ben Graham out of his horror form slump.

Graham last night spoke of Carey's advice in a revealing interview with the Geelong Advertiser and also declared his preference to play in the back line.

After another indifferent performance against Port Adelaide on Saturday, in which the Cats were thumped by 75 points, Graham admitted he was drastically out of touch but promised Cats fans he was doing everything possible to return to his best form.

``It will turn around,'' Graham, 28, vowed.

``Of course I'd love to be playing well every week and leading the side to victory but it's not quite working out at the moment.''

Graham said Carey, who contacted the Geelong captain through his manager, was surprised by the media criticism and urged the Cats' forward to get back to the basics of the game.

``He (Carey) is saying he's been in the situation too and that you get yourself back into the game by laying a tackle, by protecting a team-mate, by making yourself feel good about contributing to the team without concentrating on taking a great mark and going back and kicking the winning goal, or kicking 10 goals for the day,'' he said.

``He said it's just the simple things - keep it simple - just get back to the basics and it should fall into place.

``If you're doing everything right, and you've done it all before, there's no way it's not going to happen for you.''

Geelong has lost its past three matches by an average of more than 60 points and Graham has come under increased criticism for his ailing form and a lack of natural born leadership.

He has kicked just nine goals from eight matches playing in unfamiliar roles on the Cats' forward line.

``No one needs to tell me more than myself that I need to lift my game,'' Graham said. ``Anyone can criticise and everyone has, but I'm the one who has got to say `Righto, I've got to do something about it'.''

He has been the brunt of intense media interest since the start of the season and more recently has come under renewed pressure to be moved back.

His only support has come from the Cats' hierarchy, team-mates, family, friends and 1977 Brownlow Medallist Graham Teasdale.

``Naturally I would prefer to play in defence in a perfect team,'' he said.

``(But) I'm sure that if I was to continue to play as a forward then I could turn it around as a forward.

Graham, on the verge of signing a deal which could see him play out his AFL career at Skilled Stadium, said that while he had tried to ignore the media focus it had opened his eyes to another side of the game.

``What has been interesting is all the people I have relationships with that have had their say in the media, none of them have spoken to me before they voiced their opinion.

``It would have been nice for them to knock on my door and say `how are you going, mate?' or `can I give you some advice?'.''

With Geelong's next game on Saturday against the Western Bulldogs at Skilled Stadium, Graham is hoping for a return to form.

In 2001 Graham was awarded three Brownlow votes for his performance against the Dogs at home.

``For all those that care, I'm doing all right,'' he said.