'Taken advantage of': Aussie star leads criticism of 'shameful' Ben Cousins interview

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor
Ben Cousins sat down for his first interview in 10 years. Image: Channel 7

Former Wallabies star Matt Giteau has led a raft of criticism of Channel 7’s interview with Ben Cousins on Sunday night.

In his first interview with the media in 10 years, the fallen AFL star opened up about his downward spiral and life behind bars in ‘Ben Cousins: Coming Clean’.

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But what was dubbed as a ‘tell-all’ interview left many viewers feeling flat.

Scores of fans criticised the interview for failing to reveal any new information about Cousins’ plight, while many including Giteau felt it was inappropriate given Cousins is still clearly struggling.

The Brownlow Medal winner and six-time All Australian played 238 games for West Coast before he was axed in 2007 after he was arrested on drug-related charges.

He was banned by the AFL for 12 months for bringing the game into disrepute soon after he was dumped by the Eagles.

He went on to play 32 games in two years at Richmond before retiring at the age of 32 at the end of the 2010 season.

But Cousins’ life spun out of control in retirement, his issues with drug dependency resulting in him spending time in jail.

“Channel 7 couldn’t care less about Ben Cousins in my opinion,” Giteau tweeted on Sunday night after watching the interview. “Just wanted the story.”

“I felt he was taken advantage of badly and the whole thing was just sad. Say what you want of him but I really hope he gets the help he desperately needs.”

And Giteau wasn’t alone in expressing similar concerns.

Basil Zempilas defends Ben Cousins interview

Channel 7’s Basil Zemplias defended his interview with Cousins on Sunday.

“Many people say, ‘Why tell the Ben Cousins story?’ I think it is important because there are so many everyday Australians dealing with an addiction with ice, either them or a family member,” Zempilas said on Weekend Sunrise.

“If it can happen to him … someone with the world at his feet, there is every chance it can happen to someone they know as well.

“Once it gets into someone it is very difficult for them to get it out of their system. Ben Cousins wants to win this fight … but it is not an easy battle to win.”

Discussing the interview on Thursday, entertainment reporter Peter Ford said Cousins was paid but insisted the money would not go to Cousins straight away.

“There was payment involved, but the payment has gone to Ben’s lawyer and it will be drip fed to him for his living expenses moving forward,” Ford said.

“So the last thing you want to do when you’re dealing with an addict is give them a whole bunch of cash. That is not what is happening.”

Ben Cousins celebrates after winning the 2006 Grand Final with West Coast. (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

Cousins apologises for role in West Coast drug culture

During the interview, Cousins expressed remorse for his role in creating the drug culture that dogged West Coast for years after he was sensationally sacked by the club.

“Oh, I am sorry, I am remorseful,” Cousins said of his negative influence on the Western Australian powerhouse.

“And the fallout from that has been pretty significant on the club.

“So, it has taken a while since that time for the club to find itself back in a position like it is today.”

Cousins watched West Coast's 2018 grand final win over Collingwood in jail, saying it was a win that meant a lot to him as he struggled to come to terms with how his last few years with the Eagles played out.

“(You don't know) how much I walk around with some of that stuff... other people probably never know,” he said.

“There was just another side to that (grand final) win and what it represented to me.

“(That) this just had done a full circle, you know? And although it's a long time and a lot had happened... you got to live with that.

“It doesn't change what took place at the time but it was almost like a bit of relief.”

with AAP