Aker must lift to keep place: Eade - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Aker must lift to keep place: Eade

By Adam Cooper 24/05/2010 08:43:15 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade says AFL veteran Jason Akermanis is struggling on the field and must improve his form over the next month to keep his spot.

Eade said Akermanis struggled in Saturday's win over North Melbourne, but was unsure whether that had anything to do with the criticism he copped for his controversial newspaper column last week calling on gay footballers to stay in the closet.

But Eade said some Bulldogs had spoken to Akermanis about his media commitments and told him they did not want distractions.

Eade acknowledged the 2001 Brownlow medallist was down on his 2009 output and had to lift given teammates Brad Johnson, Robert Murphy, Shaun Higgins and Callan Ward are expected to return from injury over the next five rounds.

"I think it's getting to that stage," he told the Ten Network.

"It depends on other players' form as well.

"Obviously Jason didn't play well on the weekend, but his previous two were OK, the Sydney game (the previous week) he was probably seven out of 10, so it was not too bad.

"But I would think if they're (the injured quartet) going to come back in the next four or five weeks, that gives players four or five weeks to put their case."

Akermanis has booted just two goals from eight games in 2010 whereas he had kicked 19 and far more ball at the same stage last year.

Eade said the half-forward was still in the Bulldogs' best side but was "not playing anywhere near where he was last year, there's no doubt about that".

Akermanis kicked the first goal against North but struggled from there on, although after the game he said the death of his wife's grandfather had weighed more heavily on him than the response to his newspaper column.

North coach Brad Scott last week said Akermanis' teammates would have been disappointed about the distraction Akermanis' column would have created before the game.

Eade said the Bulldogs were angered by Scott's attempts to put pressure on the Bulldogs in the lead-up to the game.

But he conceded Akermanis had not responded to the controversy the way he had done previously through his career.

"I think this one was a bit bigger situation and there was a bit more angst coming back his way," he said.

"More to the point he's 33 now, he hasn't got the pace he had and there's not many players at 33 who have the pace they had.

"But at this stage he's still a valuable contributor and we'll see how he goes."

Eade said the Bulldogs players had spoken to Akermanis about scaling back on his columns.

"The leadership group has spoken to Jason today, maybe some focus it brings on as players to answer questions and maybe defend ... and maybe they just want to concentrate on their footy," he said.

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