One big monkey off Ben's big back

Tuesday, May 21
Geelong Advertiser

GEELONG skipper Ben Graham yesterday publicly confronted the poor form demons that have haunted his season so far.

In an exclusive interview with the Geelong Advertiser Graham talked candidly about his form, his efforts to turn it around and leadership pressure.

Media interest in Graham's performances has been strong and the sobs of woe from Cat fans has built to a wail over the past several weeks.

His silence on the subject up to yesterday was deafening.

Confidence is a fragile intangible and although Graham says he brushes the media criticism aside, his coach Mark Thompson believes it does sting.

``I'm sure he feels it,'' Thompson said last week.

Like Graham, Western Bulldogs captain Chris Grant has been battling his own demons this year.

Grant took a hammering from the media last week over his goalkicking, or lack of it. But rather than turn his back, he quickly tackled it head on.

The Western Bulldogs got it right. They organised a media scrum for all and sundry to watch Grant at goal-kicking practice.

It worked. The media hounds stopped circling and moved on.

Grant and the Bulldogs effectively turned what could have been an extended negative into a public positive.

Graham has done the same thing - at last.

Baring his soul is not the remedy to finding a kick, but talking openly about his slump tells the footy world he is positive about turning things around.

Graham revealed that he had recently taken advice from disgraced AFL star Wayne Carey on reversing his form.

The former Kangaroo great had a simple message; get back to the basics.

To many people that would mean getting Graham back into the backline. He has played his best footy there.

For the first time this year Graham revealed he would rather play in the back half. But in keeping with the team plan, and balance, he says he will gladly play forward.

His public declaration on all things relating to his form should please Cat fans, but nothing would please them more now than to see Graham turn it around. Going public at least takes one of the monkeys off his back.