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Garlett coach slams AFL

By Laura Gardiner
13 December 2012 01:39PM EST

THE AFL risks letting great players slip through the cracks because of “ratbag” behaviour, the coach of wayward youngster Dayle Garlett has declared.

Swan Districts coach Greg Harding has joined the chorus of criticism from Western Australia over the draft snub of Garlett, who had been considered one of the top 20 prospects, based on pure talent and ability.

Harding said the highly talented midfielder was simply not ready for the strict rules and discipline required at the professional AFL system.

He says Garlett could have been drafted and easily managed with the resources at any fully-professional AFL club. 

“I think we’re missing something, I really do, that with all of the resources at AFL clubs and millions of dollars that we spend, it’s almost one for one in terms of coaches to players now-a-days at AFL level and we still didn’t take this kid,” Harding told SEN on Thursday.

Garlett, highly-touted for his exceptional skill levels, has a reputation tarnished by his actions away from football, with reports of late-night benders apparently frightening all 18 clubs away from even giving the youngster a rookie list chance.

But Harding bluntly declared he was stunned a talented player like Garlett had been left on the AFL shelf, comparing him to a young and cocky Lance Franklin at the same age.

“He has to mature, there’s no doubt about that, but he’s not the only one," Harding continued.

"I remember young Buddy Franklin when he was over here and I remember when he was supposed to be doing his TEE at Wesley College, he was over at the races.

“Because young Buddy was a ratbag and he had the same sort of issue that Dayle has.

“We’ve just got to be really careful that we don’t get away from giving these real characters of our game an opportunity, the real talents of our game an opportunity, because the game will be poorer for it.

“I think right now, clubs haven’t got the courage to put kids like this on their list.”

Harding did admit, however, that Garlett committed some “minor infringements” in his 2012 season with the Swans that caused him to be dropped out of the senior team on more than one occasion.

But, the Swans coach said he was disappointed in the AFL clubs for judging Garlett so quickly.

“There’s perception about Dayle, that he’s a bad kid and it’s just not right,” Harding said.

“Look, it’s just disappointing that clubs have made an assumption about the kid’s character so quickly.”

Harding compared Garlett to gifted established stars of the AFL including hulking West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui and Carlton star Chris Yarran, in terms of his raw talent.

Swan Districts football manager and former long-serving Fremantle Dockers recruiting chief Phil Smart was also scathing in his criticism of AFL clubs immediately following Tuesday’s last draft process for the year, that ignored Garlett.

Smart told The West that if every player in the system was required to be “squeaky clean”, there would be a lot of players out of work.

“Everybody has to make their own decision on it but still nobody’s been able to come up and tell me what Dayle has done wrong,” Smart said.

“Unfortunately the AFL clubs are a bit hypocritical in their stance, letting some of their players get away with what they do and then making such a judgemental decision on a young indigenous boy is appalling.”

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Add your comment... Comments (2)
Equal rights 13 December 2012 2:29PM

The article was to the point right until the last paragraph.
Why oh why did he need to specify the young boy was indigenous? Playing a race card at the AFL. Oh, dear.

Me 14 December 2012 9:49AM

Hear hear. Clubs still recruiting indigenous players, just not players who aren't willing to put in the work.