Eagle: ‘We won’t give up on Ben’
THEY say everyone from the senior coach down to the bootstudder contributes to an AFL premiership and for a segment of this season Ben Cousins played a part at the Eagles.
In the latest unfortunate chapter in the former star's life he was locked up in jail yesterday as West Coast won a thrilling grand final against Collingwood.
If everything had gone according to plan Cousins would likely have been at the MCG with the club he pushed to the 2006 flag.
The 40-year-old worked with the Eagles in a development role earlier this year after being released from a one-year prison term.
He was charged with passing on the knowledge gained in a career that saw him win every accolade in the game, including a premiership, a Brownlow Medal, a Rising Star award, six All-Australians and four best and fairests.
"We believe (the role) will have mutual benefits for both parties," a West Coast spokesman said when the Eagles employed him earlier in the year.
"This has been a particularly hard time for Ben and his family and we look forward to him beginning the next phase of his life."
But after three months in the job, which Cousins had to complete as part of the terms of his release, he went AWOL.
West Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett confirmed Cousins was no longer in the club's employ and a few months later his world came crashing down again.
He was arrested at a house in Western Australia and sent back to jail after being hit with 16 charges, including aggravated burglary, aggravated stalking and possessing a prohibited drug with intent to sell or supply.
It's unknown whether he was able to watch Saturday's game from his cell, but a former teammate offered a vote of confidence in his ability to recover after the Eagles' five-point win.
David Wirrpanda is one of a handful of former Eagles players who remains in touch with Cousins and provided an update on his situation on SEN's This is Your Sporting Life on Sunday morning.
"He's going through a stage of his life where it's just not very comfortable at all," Wirrpanda said.
"In comparison to when he went into jail last time, this time he's a little bit more aware of where he's at which is a good thing.
"But we all know he needs as much support as he can possible get.
"He's like family to us. He's an example that having a drug habit doesn't discriminate, it can touch anyone and Ben's one of the best footballers I've ever seen and played with, but it just goes to show it doesn't matter who you are, it can get you.
"Unfortunately it's been a big battle for him ... every man is responsible for their own attitude and action. I know deep down inside Ben has the discipline to be able to change his life and get back on track. Because I know his character ... when it came to training and playing footy there was no one more professional.
"It's about embracing the support he has around him. We won't give up on Ben."