Cousins closes in on AFL comeback - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cousins closes in on AFL comeback

By Roger Vaughan 25/02/2009 07:21:02 PM Comments (0)

A year and a half after nearly ruining his AFL career and his life, Ben Cousins is back.

Thursday night's round-two NAB Cup match between Richmond and Collingwood at Telstra Dome will be the Brownlow Medallist's first game against another club since he played for West Coast in the 2007 finals series.

In between the police have arrested him, the Eagles have sacked him, the AFL have suspended and then reinstated him and the Tigers, belatedly, recruited Cousins.

His return has generated massive interest in what would otherwise be just another pre-season game.

TAB Sportsbet are offering a market on how many goals he will kick against the Magpies and Sportingbet have odds on how many possessions he will have.

A Richmond spokesperson said Cousins' arrival at Punt Rd had definitely helped their membership.

"Membership is currently about 30 per cent ahead of where we were tracking last year," she said.

"We are selling about 1,000 new memberships every week.

"Obviously there was a spike in membership when we recruited Ben Cousins, but it also has as much to do with the very strong finish to last year, winning the last eight out of 11 games."

While Cousins-related merchandise is proving popular, Matthew Richardson remains the king of Punt Rd, as was shown during Sunday's club family day.

Teammate Daniel Jackson said Cousins had already been a major influence at the club, however, as the Tigers try to break back into the top eight for the first time since 2001.

"For me personally, he's been a fantastic asset because I've been playing on these types of players, I do a lot of tagging," Jackson said.

"So I pick his brain all the time, `what gives you the shits the most, Ben?' and he tells me straight out.

"I go and use that against other players."

Jackson added that he accepts there will always be intense media interest in the former West Coast captain.

But he said a newspaper report on the weekend, showing Cousins outside his house, was taking the coverage too far.

"I don't know if it will ever be normal with him around ... we expected that when we drafted him, that there would be a lot more hype.

"There have been plenty of benefits in membership, we had huge support at our family day.

"What happened on the weekend was crossing the line of decency and obviously I'm not speaking from experience, it hasn't happened to me.

"But to have journos floating around in front of his house, I think a lot of people out there, the readers, the viewers, would agree it's just a little bit too much."

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