DESPITE appearing in it, Nic Naitanui hasn’t yet watched the latest documentary outlining the fall of former Eagle Ben Cousins.
Naitanui, who inherited Cousins' No.9 West Coast guernsey, said he dearly hoped that Cousins would seek ways to change his life over the cheques still being offered to him to tell his troubled story.
"I've had an up and down relationship with Ben over the years, he had a little stint with us back at the club a couple of years ago, he was working in our community team with the Naitanui program, and some of the young kids as well," Naitanui told AFL.com.au.
"That probably didn't end up the way we wanted it to end up. And obviously what happened from there, transpired.
"I have spoken to him, but haven't seen him (since the documentary). I actually haven't seen the documentary.
"I don't know why, I just didn't feel … I couldn’t watch it at the time, I missed it, and haven't seen it.
"My biggest thing to come out of it was for Ben to get something out of it. I know a lot of addicts in my life, I know a lot of people who have really struggled.
"For me, I don't want him to get another pay day. He can make money easily, but I want him to change his life around.
"I'm not sure, I've heard different reviews of the documentary about whether he is prepared to change his life around, or accept where he is at.
"I feel sorry for the man because at the end of the day he is my childhood star, but he is a recovering addict.
"He gets treated differently sometimes because of who he is. It is a sad thing to see and witness, especially growing up in Perth and seeing this guy from when I was a little child to where I am at now … it is really sad to see."
Cousins won the 2005 Brownlow Medal as well as four Eagles best and fairests, captained the club on 104 occasions and was a member of its 2006 premiership.
But by the end of 2006, his life had spiralled into a drug-hazed frenzy from which he has never recovered.
"I want to see him happy, I want to see him have fun, but that probably takes breaking down some of those bad relationships he has had with people," Naitanui said.
"I don’t see him day to day, so I don't know how in-touch he is with all those people. Just realising that his family is there and just outing some of those connections back up.
"Especially during the times like this, this is when I think of guys like Ben. When you are stuck at home, in isolation, who are you with?
"If you are at home with your mum and dad, it makes is so much easier and it makes you realise that no car, no drug, no bike, nothing, is going to feel any better than the love of your family and friends.
"This is where I think it would be a really tough for people like that, who have broken some of those relationships down, to find some purpose in life and to find something to be happy and motivated about."