St Kilda decide against Cousins - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

St Kilda decide against Cousins

25/11/2008 10:37:53 PM Comments (0)

Ben Cousins' hopes of an AFL comeback have received a major setback, with St Kilda becoming the latest club to decide against recruiting the fallen star.

The Saints were considered the front-runners to sign the 2005 Brownlow Medallist, but the club board and executive have decided unanimously against recruiting him.

Brisbane are now likely to become Cousins' top option, following reports that new Lions coach Michael Voss flew to Perth in the last few days to meet with him.

Key St Kilda figures, including the board, coach Ross Lyon and chief executive Archie Fraser, met for two hours at a secret location in Melbourne late on Tuesday to decide on the West Coast premiership player and former captain.

It was the end of a five-month process for the Saints, who consulted their players, sponsors and members on the controversial topic of whether to recruit Cousins.

"We owed it to ourselves to undertake a rigorous and thorough review and have now made our decision," Fraser said in a club statement.

"This is a decision that we didn't take lightly and we still believe that for the right club, Ben could well be a great opportunity."

The AFL commission decided last week to let the self-confessed drug addict play again, after de-registering him a year ago for bringing the game into disrepute.

The league has given him an extension until Wednesday afternoon to nominate for Saturday's national draft.

A club could also pick up Cousins through the December 16 pre-season draft.

Earlier, league chief executive Andrew Demetriou stressed the need for an AFL club to draft Cousins, to help with his rehabilitation.

"It is a very important part of his (Cousins') rehabilitation to get him back plying his trade - to get him back in the workforce which he loves," Demetriou said.

"It's a very important step in his recovery and where he ends up playing I have no preference whatsoever."

The league imposed rigorous guidelines on Cousins if his AFL comeback goes ahead, including up to three urine tests a week and four hair tests over the course of the season.

Cousins has not played since West Coast lost last year's qualifying final to Port Adelaide.

His manager Ricky Nixon was not immediately available for comment.

The Saints' statement announcing their decision not to sign Cousins did not outline any reasons.

They said their review of the Cousins issue would remain confidential.

The statement said the Saints had "conducted a complex five-month review on Ben Cousins and its own playing group, resulting in a list management blueprint with a long-term and strategic approach."

They also thanked Cousins and his management "for the professional manner in which they have conducted discussions during this period".

It is understood the Saints had to pick up Cousins in Saturday's draft, rather than the pre-season draft, because of total player payment pressures.

North Melbourne have also ruled out recruiting Cousins, while there were reports last month that Collingwood had hired a private detective before deciding against signing him.

Cousins, 30, played 238 games for the Eagles after his 1996 debut.

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