Cousins to sign new Tiger deal
Thursday September 10, 2009
BEN COUSINS has told the AFL that he supports the on-going and rigorous drug-testing regime that has underlined his return to top-level competition.Cousins will remain at Richmond for at least one more season, with the controversial footballer and his new club having unofficially come to terms in a deal which will see the 31-year-old double his relatively modest 2009 pay packet to an estimated $350,000 next year.The AFL commission's decision to lift Cousins' suspension from the game has subjected the player to up to three drug tests a week since last December and he will also be the only AFL player to be tested over the holiday period.Richmond has also moved to help Cousins through the off-season with key strategies in place to help the player survive his temporary removal from a football routine.The AFL sanction remains indefinite and according to the league's football boss Adrian Anderson is likely to remain in place over 2010. Anderson confirmed that he had spoken in recent days with Cousins' manager Ricky Nixon to confirm the continuation of the player's "special treatment"."I think it's a good thing he (Cousins) is happy for it to continue and we think that's the right way to go," said Anderson, who is the AFL executive charged with determining Cousins' punishment should he ever test positive. To date Cousins' urine tests €” more than 100 since Christmas €” have all been negative.Cousins is expected to finish in the top-five players at next week's Jack Dyer Medal count but will earn less than $200,000 this season despite having passed a number of incentives laid out in his 2009 contract.New Tigers coach Damien Hardwick officially gave Cousins the green light last week and although the pair have not yet spoken at length, an agreement is expected by Friday.Richmond football boss Craig Cameron told The Age: "We're hopeful of having an agreement in place by the end of this week."Cameron added that the Tigers had put a number of structures in place to help Cousins over the off-season but refused to detail them.While AFL players can be subjected to hair testing at the end of their eight-week break, Cousins €” who has been holidaying in Torquay and has told the Tigers he will spend the majority of the holiday period in and around Melbourne €” must make himself available to random urine tests.Only radically extenuating circumstances would stop the AFL from banning Cousins from playing should he test positive.Anderson described Cousins' return from his year-long ban as "highly successful and commendable'. The 2005 Brownlow medallist finished in the top five at Richmond in disposals, handballs, contested possessions, hardball gets and clearances. Despite massive doubts over his problematic hamstrings Cousins played 15 of a possible 22 games for the Tigers.Next year's contract will be far less weighted towards minimum game incentives.While Cousins' short-term future at Tigerland remains secure the club has closed the door on eight playing careers this year. Kane Johnson, Joel Bowden, Nathan Brown, Mark Coughlan, Jarrad Oakley-Nicholls, Kayne Pettifer and Cleve Hughes have retired or been shown the door while Andrew Raines is expected to try his luck with the Brisbane Lions.The Tigers will bring in the consultants Leading Teams into the club to develop its leadership during pre-season and have not yet reached final decisions on Troy Simmonds €” who is expected to stay €” and Graham Polak, who seems more likely to depart pending medical advice.Matthew Richardson has until December to reach a decision upon his future but has been told by the club he is wanted by the new coach. Development coach Craig McRae now looks certain to join Michael Voss at the Brisbane Lions.