St Kilda keen on Cousins, says manager - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

St Kilda keen on Cousins, says manager

By John Salvado and Melissa Woods 17/10/2008 09:43:32 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda are set to take a punt on Ben Cousins, offering the recovering drug addict a football life-line and accompanying off-field support if he is cleared to play again by the AFL.

Cousins' manager Ricky Nixon said the Saints believed the former West Coast captain's rehabilitation would be best served by returning to football.

The 2005 Brownlow Medallist, who was deregistered in 2008 for bringing the game into disrepute, can only return to the sport if given the all-clear by the AFL Commission next month.

Nixon suggested his client's future, on and off the field, lay in their hands.

"If he can't play football it's going to be a pretty big hit that we're going to have to work through and it's going to change the whole rehabilitation process," Nixon said.

"I certainly think it's going to go a long way to his rehabilitation.

"When you set yourself goals to get off this stuff and those goals relate to you playing football, if suddenly that's taken away from you it's going to make it very, very difficult.

"If you shoot down the goal or what they're striving for it can end in chaos."

St Kilda became the clear frontrunners on Thursday night after Collingwood pulled out of the race for the 30-year-old.

The Magpies were understood to have contacted Victorian Police Commissioner Christine Nixon for advice on Cousins and also employed a private investigator to tail him.

The manager didn't believe Collingwood's actions would impact on other clubs' pursuit of Cousins with St Kilda still "very keen".

"You only need one club to play AFL football and at the moment there's at least one who are quite prepared to draft him if and when he's made eligible to play," Ricky Nixon told Radio 3AW.

"One club in particular has led the way in talking to us about that and making the playing side of that and his involvement back in the community and with supporters and the club part of his rehabilitation we're encouraged by that and the AFL should be encouraged by that."

The Magpies told Nixon they had decided not to chase Cousins for a number of reasons, including their preference for younger players, injury concerns and his well-documented off-field issues.

The club, who were the early favourites to recruit Cousins due to his longstanding relationship with coach Mick Malthouse, have a recent history of off-field strife involving high-profile players such as Alan Didak and Heath Shaw.

While Ricky Nixon believed Cousins' playing future was assured pending the AFL Commission's approval, he was furious about the Magpies' methods which he described as "unnecessary", and with the police chief, who declined to comment on her involvement.

"(Christine Nixon) should have come out and say this is what happened and clarified it and I hope it does happen and quickly.

""It leaves it open to innuendo and rumour," he said.

" ... I don't have a problem with Collingwood or any club doing their due diligence.

"In fact, I'd love them to do it and do as much as they can.

"And I'll tell you what, if they want 110 per cent of exactly what Ben's been through and where he's at and what he's been doing the last 12 months they only have to come to my office because we're not going to shirk the issue."

Cousins was dumped by West Coast last year and senior Eagles officials have insisted they have no intention of re-signing him.

Bookmakers Sportingbet Australia have framed a new market on Cousins' likely new home, with St Kilda the $1.30 favourites.

The only other club at single-figure odds was Brisbane at $5.50.

Saints officials refused to comment on whether they were still in the hunt for the midfield star.

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