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Cousins to return to football

Ben Cousins farewells the crowd after his last match with the Tigers - ${keywords}
Ben Cousins farewells the crowd after his last match with the Tigers
BROWNLOW medallist Ben Cousins will return to the playing field next year for the Mullewa Saints in Western Australia's Great Northern Football League.

Cousins, 34, who retired from the AFL at the end of 2010, has signed on for two games but the club is hopeful he will add more.

Mullewa club president Brett Del Nero said it wasn't hard to convince Cousins to play the two games, but the club understood the off-field commitments he had.

"He's got a young family and other commitments to different groups," Del Nero told ABC Radio.

"He's very approachable and very well respected within our community."

Mullewa is located 450km north of Perth, a far cry from where Cousins made his name as a hard-running midfielder.

He racked up 238 games for West Coast before adding a further 32 to his tally at Richmond.

Cousins was sacked by the Eagles in 2007 and later suspended for a year by the AFL for bringing the game into disrepute.

He had developed a drug addiction and had repeatedly fallen into trouble off the field.

Richmond drafted him at the end of 2008 and he returned to the field the following year in the yellow and black, where he played for two seasons.

Del Nero said Cousins had offered to direct his match payments to Mullewa's club academy, and his prospective appearance had already made an impact on the Saints' players.

"I even had some players talk about doing a pre-season this year, which is unusual," he said.

"That's Ben Cousins, and that's what he brings to football. I think it's great."

Cousins will also conduct training sessions with another ex-Eagle Travis Gaspar.

Cousins and Gaspar, who have previously held clinics at schools in the area, will also provide life coaching to the players.