Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield says Bernard Tomic could easily change the public’s perception of him, if he is proactive in the community and avoids his media outbursts.
The much-maligned 25-year-old had another tantrum after failing to qualify for this year’s Australia Open, saying, "I just count money, that's all I do, I count my millions,” after his loss to world number 218 Lorenzo Sonego.
It comes after Tomic admitted he gets “bored” on the court at Wimbledon last year, as his career is spinning in a downward trend.
However, according to Dangerfield, who is one of the AFL’s most marketable and loved figures, Tomic could change his image if he is guided in the right direction.
“Being in the media, you like comments like that because it gives you something to talk about, but someone in Bernard’s management has to sit him down and have a chat,” the 2016 Brownlow Medallist told SEN Breakfast.
“It wouldn’t be hard to turn around the entire Australian public perception of him.
“Change his behaviour. Use social media, go and play tennis with some fans, I think we saw Sam Kerr a few weeks ago, she went out and had a kick of the soccer ball out the front of her house with a few of the locals, and she is already well loved.
“Imagine if Bernard Tomic did something like that with a few of his legion of fans. It would change the perception very quickly.
“We don’t love brats in Australia, do we?”
While Tomic scrambles to get his career back on track, fellow Aussie Nick Kyrgios has seemed to win back some parts of the nation, and enters the year’s first Grand Slam as a legitimate contender.
Dangerfield is of the notion Kyrgios has matured with experience, something that has helped his turnaround.
“I love the way that he plays,” he said.
“He can look laconic at times but then pull out the most ridiculous shots and he certainly has the weaponry.
“Most of us when we first start our careers, we are a little bit immature at times and as you get older, you understand how to adjust to the industry, what’s acceptable, what’s not, and how to play the public perception.
“At the end of the day, it’s a really important part of what we do as athletes. It can give you a step up, not only in the support you get from the Australian public, but also from potential partners and sponsorships.”
Kyrgios’ Australian Open campaign begins this evening against Brazilian Rogério Dutra Silva.
Did you miss Patrick Dangerfield’s chat with Garry Lyon and Tim Watson on SEN Breakfast? Take a listen in the player below!