AFL great Glen Jakovich has added to calls for Ben Cousins to be inducted into the league's Hall of Fame despite his chequered past. Cousins is attempting to get his life back on track following a staggering fall from grace since his retirement, which has seen him battle drug addiction and spend a number of stints behind bars.
On Sunday he played a game in the West Coast Eagles guernsey for the first time in 16 years for an exhibition legend's match against the club's Second Generation Academy at Optus Stadium. It marked the first time since 2007 that the former Brownlow medallist played a game - albeit a kick and giggle - in the Eagles guernsey since his tumultuous exit from the club.
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Following the game, Jakovich told the Herald Sun that he'd spoken to Cousins, who expressed his desire to be recognised in the AFL Hall of Fame. The 44-year-old has been eligible for the Hall since 2013, but has been overlooked because of the league’s 'character' criteria.
The Hall of Fame committee looks at integrity, sportsmanship and character of players when deciding who should be inducted. Gary Ablett Sr - another controversial figure - had to wait a number of years before he was finally inducted in 2005, while Wayne Carey was overlooked twice before getting his nod in 2010.
“I spoke to him yesterday about a few things. The biggest question was whether he could reintegrate back into community life, hold down a normal job and be a normal contributor to society,” Jakovich told the Herald Sun.
“West Coast has just had a Hall of Fame event which he didn’t make. They wanted to wait another 12 months. So if not this year then next year from an AFL perspective.
“He has had a bloody good 18 months. He works for Channel 7, he works for a mining company and he goes to a lot of mining sites and speaks to them and basically says don’t end up like me. His biggest commitment is to his kids. He has gone from no access to good access and has had to tick boxes with the authorities. So that is a really big tick for ‘Cuz’.”
Ben Cousins continues redemption story
During his prime, Cousins was one of the AFL's top midfielders and played a crucial role in West Coast's premiership triumph in 2006. He played 238 games for the Eagles, but off-field troubles cost him the captaincy in early 2006 and he was sacked by the club after the 2007 season. He returned to the AFL in 2009 and played 32 games for Richmond before he retired at the end of 2010.
He made his return to the footy field in 2021, playing for Queens Park in the Perth Metro Football League. He has also been working in an assistant coaching role with WAFL side Perth Demons since last year.
At the end of the 2021 season he attended the Brownlow Medal ceremony for the first time in 11 years, alongside friend Kellye Fergus. When asked if he was back on the right path, Cousins replied: "Yeah absolutely. It's definitely a big night. It's been a while since I've been to one of the football industry nights.
"(There's been) a little bit behind the scenes, but that's part of it. You find yourself in different situations along the way. It's just great to be here tonight. There's been plenty of people. I won't go into it tonight. I'm just very fortunate that I've got the opportunity to come to one of football's great nights."
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