Gold Coast talent Ben King has been accused of “watching the game unfold around him” as damning vision emerged from his fourth straight goalless game on Sunday.
King, who missed the entire 2022 campaign with a serious knee injury, has struggled in recent weeks – but it was his willingness to get involved in a contest that came into question during On the Couch on Monday night.
Footage from the loss to GWS showed King on two separate occasions allow the ball to roll past him – the first where he opted not to engage physically with Giant Lachie Ash and the second where he stood back and allowed three Giants to swoop on the loose footy in front of goal.
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“What is he doing? He’s not in the game!” Fox Footy’s Garry Lyon lamented.
“This is the challenge for (interim Suns coach) Steven King now.
“There’s no shame in going back to the VFL for Ben King. Because that (damning vision) to me indicates the game is too much for him right now. He’s just watching.
“He’s there watching the game unfold around him.
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“He hasn’t been there for a few weeks now.
“That stuff is ground level stuff where natural instinct (takes over).”
Lyon was quick to point out there’s no doubt King has plenty of talent, given he kicked 47 goals in just his third AFL season and has snared 33 goals in the first 14 games of this season.
“I don’t want to be seen to be gratuitously going after a young man who is under a bit of pressure at the moment in Ben King,” Lyon said.
“This is a man who’s been touted since he was 15 as a potential superstar of this competition.
“What he’s done to date when you stack it up has been really impressive.
“You don’t kick 47 goals in your third season if you don’t have prodigious talent.
“We don’t know what’s going on in players’ lives … all I know is for whatever reason he has lost his competitive drive.
“When you look at this vision … there’s a big issue at play here for Ben.
“He’s got three players running in support but he lets him (Ash) go! That’s no good.”
Lyon said a VFL spell might be the best answer for King to go back and find some form before the end of 2023.
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“We’ve all been there, when something’s not working for you, go to work on that,” he said.
“That was a front and centre crumb (the second worrying vision) … Doesn’t matter if you’re 200 cm or 140!
“That is a concern – the ball presented to him! And he just walked around it.
“They’ve got work to do – if he has to go back to the VFL, then that’s OK.”
AFL great Jonathan Brown said key forwards needed to be “a competitive animal” to thrive in the competition, and was concerned by the output of King.
“No matter what your make up is, your personality – for that two hours out on the field, your big key forwards have to bring a certain level of competitiveness,” he said.
“He needs to go back and assess and ask himself that question – how many contests were you in?
“Are you working hard enough? Are you positioning correctly?
“Sometimes you go looking for the easy one and sometimes you don’t realise it’s happening until all of a sudden you are out of form.
“It’s pretty damning footage.”
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