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Motlop on outer as Primus lays down the law

The Age

Friday March 25, 2011

CAROLINE WILSON

DANIEL Motlop's AFL career is again at the crossroads with the talented but troubled footballer left out of Port Adelaide's season opener for disciplinary reasons.In his biggest statement yet as Port's new senior coach, Matthew Primus has relegated the 28-year-old to the SANFL this weekend despite Motlop's promising pre-season and improved fitness.The Age understands that the Power's recently bolstered nine-man leadership group has endorsed the coach's decision to drop Motlop because of his lack of adequate preparation over the past week.The occasionally explosive but erratic forward, who managed just 10 goals in a dismal and controversy-marred 2010, must prove he is prepared to follow Primus and his captain Domenic Cassisi and their new set of team rules if he is to push for senior selection.Port football boss Peter Rohde said last night: "Daniel hasn't been suspended and he hasn't been fined but he hurt his ankle last week at training and his training hasn't been adequate since then. His form hasn't been that great."In an extraordinary off-field drama that has been played out behind the scenes at Alberton since last year, Motlop is also facing court action after an altercation last season with teammate Jacob Surjan's fiancee Alison Phelps in which she alleged the player assaulted her. The case is due in court in early April and the club remains hopeful that the matter can be resolved before then.Port officials are working closely with Motlop in a bid to resolve the situation and it is not known whether Phelps will decide to withdraw the charges. The incident was witnessed by several teammates and their girlfriends and arose following an argument relating to Motlop's broken marriage.Despite that off-field drama, both Rohde and coach Primus have said that the two players remain on good terms. The pair underwent in-club counselling last season and Surjan said earlier this week that he had no issue with Motlop. Surjan, who will not line up against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium tomorrow as he continues to recover from his knee injury, was recently promoted to the leadership group.Motlop last year was suspended following the club's Darwin game for breaking a club curfew and was almost traded at the end of last season. Although his attitude has improved over the summer, the feeling among the club's leaders is that he has some way to go to fully pledge himself into the club's new disciplinary system in which transgressions such as missing physiotherapy appointments and arriving late for rehabilitation sessions are seen as unworthy of a professional footballer.In another telling statement, 31-year-old Chad Cornes will not play against the Magpies as they open their premiership defence despite having kicked six goals for Glenelg in the SANFL last week.Port forward coach Garry Hocking said last month of Cornes and Motlop: "They are going to have to be toeing the party line too and doing the things we ask them to, otherwise they don't play."

© 2011 The Age

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