Cousins back in style on the field - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cousins back in style on the field

By Mike Hedge 26/02/2009 10:32:07 PM Comments (0)

Much of the speed remains, most of the skill and the football brain that helped him to a Brownlow medal appears to have survived totally intact.

Ben Cousins is back in the game.

And he won't be playing any kind of token role for his new club.

If his first game for Richmond - and his first in 77 weeks - is any guide, Cousins will be exactly what the Tigers hoped he would be.

Richmond stuck their neck out for Cousins.

At Telstra Dome on Thursday night he gave every indication he would repay them.

The AFL's most scrutinised player took a few minutes to adjust in the NAB Cup match against Collingwood.

A couple of fruitless dashes back and forth, a couple of pleas for the ball to be passed to him rejected.

Then a flash of brilliance.

Five minutes into the game Cousins rolled away from his opponent on the attacking 50m arc and pulled in a difficult, wobbling pass.

He earned a free kick and took a shot, Richmond's first for the night.

It dropped a couple of metres short and he left the ground breathing heavily shortly after.

But it was as if one touch was all he needed.

Cousins proceeded to do what good, running players all do - he got to where the football was.

With subtle ease, and with only 33 minutes on the ground, Cousins finished the first half with 14 possessions, a total bettered by only two other Richmond players.

He played with equal effect in both defence and attack and if some of his teammates had been as adept as himself, the Tigers might have been in front at half time, rather than a point down.

Cousins, whose involvement with drugs and with some of Perth's less-savoury characters forced him out of the game for a season, also went through a string of opponents,

The Irishman Marty Clarke picked him up at the opening bounce, Ryan Cook had a run on him as did Dane Swan.

Perhaps his most interesting opponent was Alan Didak.

Another player who has sometimes made unsuitable off-field acquaintances, Didak would at least have had something to chat about with Cousins.

They appeared to hit it off well in the first half but, to the delight of the Magpie fans, had a slight dust-up in the third quarter.

Clearly, Cousins was short of fitness.

He was used sparingly, but did more than his share.

It is what the Richmond fans would have hoped for - and what they deserve.

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