Cousins jumps on Tiger train - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cousins jumps on Tiger train

By Justin Chadwick 14/02/2009 05:04:49 PM Comments (0)

Star AFL footballer Ben Cousins, still overwhelmed by the support he has received since joining Richmond, says he feels at home at Richmond and believes the club is ready to "take the next step".

The Tigers have reached the finals just once in the past 13 years but Cousins, who has been thrown a lifeline by the club, despite spending more than a year out of the game battling drug addiction, is confident Terry Wallace's side are on the verge of something special.

"They're a developing side, an improving side," Cousins told a Richmond function in Perth on Friday night

"I think I'm arriving at the club at a good time where they've been together for a number of years now and they're ready to take the next step."

Cousins, who notched 238 games in a glittering 12-year career at West Coast, said he had been blown away by the support he had received from football fans since coming clean about his addiction to drugs.

"The footy public in general has been fantastic," Cousins said.

"It surprised me in a way.

"I couldn't ask for anything more, from the average football follower on the street to the Richmond faithful that made me feel welcome.

"Some unforeseeable things happened (earlier in my career) but I think that's the way life works.

"But I'm happy to be at a Melbourne side with a good atmosphere and there's aspects of footy that I haven't experienced yet, that hopefully aren't too far away."

Wallace said Cousins, who will sit out Sunday's pre-season clash with Fremantle at Subiaco Oval, could make his Tigers debut in a fortnight.

"He's done everything that we've asked," said Wallace.

"We've put him on a program that might have him available NAB two, maybe NAB three.

"But we'll give him another fortnight's training just to make sure his body's right."

Cousins, who also battled a series of hamstring problems when he last played in the AFL in 2007, admitted he still wasn't at peak fitness.

"I'm still a little bit behind the guys," Cousins said.

"Joining the group in December probably wasn't the ideal preparation but I think, looking towards a season that's six weeks away, barring any injury I should be cherry ripe."

Tigers vice-captain Nathan Foley said Cousins' leadership qualities had already strengthened the club.

"Ben's a natural leader," Foley said.

"As soon as he came to the club you just knew he had those leadership attributes.

"You can learn a lot off the bloke who's got the credentials Ben's got.

"I've had the luxury of working with him in the midfield over the summer and his advice has been great so far."

Richmond president Gary March said membership sales were up 25 per cent, thanks largely to Cousins' arrival at the club.

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