Tigers fans welcome Cousins at airport - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tigers fans welcome Cousins at airport

By Jamie Duncan 16/12/2008 11:57:46 PM Comments (0)

It was hard to know who got the greatest prize in troubled AFL star Ben Cousins' move to the Richmond Tigers after 12 months out of the game.

Was it Cousins himself, returning from football exile following self-confessed illicit drug use with a lifeline thrown to him by the Tigers in the AFL pre-season draft on Tuesday?

Or was it young Tigers fan Josh Zuehlke?

Josh scored Cousins' first autograph as a Tiger on the front of his Richmond guernsey moments after the former West Coast Eagles captain and Brownlow medallist touched down in Melbourne ahead of his first training session at Richmond's Punt Road headquarters on Wednesday.

The mop-haired 12-year-old had a grin a mile wide as Cousins stopped to sign the jumper, surrounded by federal police, airport security staff and a crowd of fans eager to catch a glimpse of the newest Tiger.

Cousins, wearing a grey pinstripe suit and a white open-necked shirt, said little to journalists but smiled and signed several autographs as he left the Qantas terminal at Melbourne Airport.

At least 50 Richmond supporters, many dressed in the club's famous yellow and black colours, waited at the arrival gate for the star.

Josh was there with his father, Tim, and siblings Zack and Emily.

"He'll be a gun player for the club," Mr Zuehlke told AAP.

"It will be good to see him come out for Richmond and Carlton (who clash in round one of the 2009 season) to show all the people that are judging him."

Cousins seemed pleased with the response from Tigers fans.

"Absolutely fantastic," he told AAP.

Another large group of supporters jostled for space with reporters, photographers and TV camera operators in the baggage hall.

Applause and cries of "You're a Tiger, mate!", "Go Tigers!" and "Welcome to Punt Road!" filled the hall.

But he didn't linger, slipping quickly into a waiting black VW Golf that sped away moments later.

Vince Farrugia, with sons Dylan, 12, Charlie, 10, and Jayden, 11 - all dressed in Richmond guernseys - said he was thrilled Cousins was coming to Tigerland.

"He's a champion player and we gave him a second chance," he told AAP.

"It doesn't matter what he can do on the field, as long as he lays off the drugs."

Richmond's selection of Cousins in the draft was the troubled star's last chance at an AFL comeback.

The deal went ahead, despite the AFL on Monday scuttling an attempt by Richmond to place injured player Graham Polak on the rookie list, giving the club an extra pick with which to take a chance on a reformed Cousins.

Cousins has completed a 12-month ban from the AFL for bringing the game into disrepute but was dropped by the Eagles last year.

His return to the field is subject to a strict drug testing regimen.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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