'They were shocked': AFL players cop 'fierce' spray over Ben Cousins

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·2-min read
Ben Cousins, pictured here during his interview with Channel 7.
St Kilda players were disappointed not to sign Ben Cousins for 2009. Image: Channel 7/Getty

Ross Lyon has revealed a spray he gave his St Kilda players in 2008 after they were disappointed to miss out on signing Ben Cousins.

Cousins is back in the news this week after sitting down with Channel 7 for his first interview in 10 years.

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Discussing the ‘Ben Cousins: Coming Clean’ documentary on Tuesday night, Lyon spoke about how close St Kilda came to signing Cousins for the 2009 season.

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, before joining Richmond in 2009.

Lyon was coaching St Kilda at the time and said the playing group was disappointed to have missed out on securing Cousins’ services.

“They were shocked. Their heads dropped,” Lyon said AFL Media’s The Coach.

“I just spoke about, ‘don’t worry about Ben Cousins’. We had a lot of talent. ‘You guys can be as good as him, why don’t you train as hard’.

“I was pretty fierce at them, they were sulking a bit.”

Ross Lyon, pictured here talking to his St Kilda players during a training session in 2009.
Ross Lyon talks to his St Kilda players during a training session in 2009. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Why the Saints didn’t sign Ben Cousins

Lyon said the club’s board couldn’t look past Cousins’ troubles.

“(There) was just a real uneasiness from the president and myself, and I did more research on drug addiction and the different substances,” he said.

“The players were really keen to get Ben, but put simply there was a split view really between the president, myself, CEO and football manager.

“We went to a board meeting at the top of Collins Street… commercially for the club it was gong to be a boom in membership and all those things. I’d made my mind up as coach that I was out and (the president) was out.

“It went to a vote. It became really simple when the president and senior coach were out.”

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

with AAP