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Cousins fit but head still spinning

By Laine Clark 12/03/2009 08:30:04 PM Comments (0)

He may have fully recovered from concussion but Ben Cousins' head is still spinning.

Richmond coach Terry Wallace said Cousins would play a "full four quarters" in Friday night's AFL practice match against Brisbane Lions on the Gold Coast after shaking off a head knock in his comeback game.

But Wallace conceded the former Brownlow Medallist was looking forward to life becoming "more normal" after the enormous hype surrounding his new life as a Tiger.

Certainly Cousins did not find any solace when he jetted into the Gold Coast for Richmond's final hit-out before the season began in earnest.

"You still wander through the airport and get the same (reception)," Wallace laughed.

"But it's just the nature of him. There's been so much general interest in his story that you would have had to be living under a rock not to notice it.

"But we expected it. And each time you come to a new venue it will be the same sort of thing.

"But as the season rolls along and he keeps playing, hopefully it will become more normal."

Asked how Cousins was handling it all, Wallace said: "I would sense he will be pleased when the ball is bounced, and it will be more about footy than anything else.

"But you have to wear what comes your way."

Cousins' comeback stalled almost as soon as it could begin - he suffered a delayed concussion after grabbing an impressive 21 touches in his long awaited return, an NAB Cup clash with Collingwood on February 26.

After missing Richmond's last clash with St Kilda at Shepparton, Cousins needed a "real searching run" against the Lions to ensure he was ready for the 2009 opener on March 26 against Carlton, Wallace said.

"We were probably keen to give him a smaller hit-out in NAB three (against the Saints), but he missed that because of the knock," he said.

"But two weeks on he's absolutely fine. He's been 10 days into competitive training with no dramas.

"And to be honest he needs a real searching run tomorrow night to top himself up for round one.

"From a footy sense his game time is probably down on what would be the norm, but a good hit-out tomorrow night and he will be fine.

"If he gets through tomorrow night he will be picked for round one."

Wallace said Richmond would not hold back against the Lions, describing the practice match as a "full dress rehearsal" for round one.

As a result, Wallace named a 24-man squad including Cousins, Matthew Richardson, Brett Deledio, Nathan Foley, Nathan Brown and Shane Tuck, and just one rookie - ruckman Andrew Browne.

The Lions have also named a strong squad after their shock loss to Melbourne last Friday night in Cairns.

They welcome back Tim Notting and Justin Sherman after they were rested against the Demons while skipper Jonathan Brown will play his first full game of 2009.

He was used for just the first half of their 37-point loss to Melbourne.

However, Jared Brennan (quad) will be rested ahead of the March 28 season opener against West Coast.

The Lions have not beaten Richmond since round 14, 2004.

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