Fallen AFL star Ben Cousins opens up on the death of his best mate, his relationship with his young son and leaves a chilling warning for anyone considering taking drugs in his first in-depth interview in more than a decade.
The former West Coast Eagle – a Brownlow Medallist, premiership player and three-time club best and fairest – was a genuine superstar of the game before his life spiralled out of control.
Cousins spectacular fall from grace left him drug-addicted, homeless and eventually behind bars.
In an upcoming documentary, ‘Coming Clean’, he speaks about his dramatic battles with substance abuse, his eight-year-old son’s love of football – and the cocaine overdose death of his best mate Chris Mainwaring.
The 41-year-old visited Mainwaring, a former Eagle, on the day of his death.
Seven’s Basil Zempilas asked why the tragedy didn’t ‘shock him straight’, as Cousins continued to use after his mate died.
‘Well it did,’ Cousins replied.
Ask for his message to today’s youth about taking drugs, Cousins said after a long pause: ‘I would encourage them to think long and hard before they decide to go down that path.’
‘Coming Clean’ will premiere on Sunday, showcasing Cousins’ recovery process and fight against his personal demons, as well as his undying love for footy and his family.
A scene from the film shows Cousins juggling a Sherrin in his hands as his body language flourishes with positive energy.
‘There’s something about a new football. It’s the smell, the touch. My shoulders prick up and I get excited,’ he said. ‘Yeah, it makes me happy, makes me smile, love it.’
Cousins’ eight-year-old son Bobby loves the game just like his father.
‘I haven’t pushed him into it or whatever, but he’s got a bad case of it at the moment,’ he said.
‘When I got out (of jail) last time I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here was on, so my boy he just loves f***ing spiders and lizards and snakes and everything.
‘I said to him, ”would you like dad to go on that?” He goes, ”I’d love you to go on that, dad”. But he said, ”I think you have to do something professional first”.
‘F***ing not far from the truth.’
Zempilas spent a week with Cousins before the interview and said he was ‘shocked’ at the former superstar’s honesty.
‘I’m close to the Ben Cousins story and have been for a long time now. I didn’t think anything he could say would surprise me, but even I was shocked,’ he said.
‘It’s explosive, compelling and emotional. With everything we’ve seen and read the natural inclination is to write Ben off but despite his struggles he remains remarkably resilient. It’s a battle but I wouldn’t bet against him.’
Cousins and his family approached the Seven network for the documentary as an important step in Cousins recovery and rehabilitation.
‘I’ve stuffed things up royally,’ Cousins said.
He wasn’t paid for the interview, which will be the first time he has spoken out on his personal troubles in a decade since his raw 2010 film ‘Such Is Life’.
‘I’m a drug addict, just flat-out. Yeah, I was drug-f**ked,’ Cousins said in 2010.
‘It was fast, it was good. They were good times. Alcohol wasn’t the big thing for me at the time. It was all about drugs for me.
‘I wouldn’t have butter on my toast, let alone a truck load of beer… (but) I’d take drugs and I would train and f***king train and obsess and play good footy.
‘I knew that at the end of that one week block, two week block or sometimes on the month, I would start to absolutely annihilate and launch into as much drugs as I could.’
The new documentary features a tennis match between Cousins and Fremantle midfielder Nat Fyfe, where Cousins talked of how important tennis became for him in jail, before beating Fyfe in a best of three match.
‘Benny, he’s the best,’ Fyfe said. ‘You don’t win the Brownlow Medal unless you are the best in the country.’
Cousins also meets with Essendon coach John Worsfold in the documentary, who coached Cousins during his tenure at the Eagles.
Cousins’s career started to plummet in a downwards spiral in 2007, where he was administered into a drug rehab facility in the U.S. and was later charged with drug offences.
After the charges were dropped, Cousins was sacked from the Eagles and banned from AFL for a year.
In 2009 he was re-signed by the Richmond Tigers but retired a year later and released a documentary detailing his struggles, ‘Such is Life: The Troubled Times of Ben Cousins’.
In the ten years since ended his football career, Cousins found himself in and out of court over drug offences.
In January 2018, Cousins was released from prison after serving 10 months of the one-year sentence for breaching a restraining order taken out by his former partner Maylea Tinecheff.
He was offered a job working with his former club the West Coast Eagles in a ‘community and game development’ role but left departed the role within months after reportedly failing to turn up for work on multiple occasions.
Cousins was back in jail months later following charges of drug possession, making threats and breaking a violence restraining order.
He spent eight months in jail until his release on bail last April.
Cousins was in March fined $1,750 for possessing meth and hiding it up his anus.
Cousins booted 205 goals for the West Coast Eagles, where he won a premiership with the club in 2006.
The Richmond Tigers gave Cousins a second chance in 2009 after his one-year ban, where he played 32 more games and 12 more goals before he retired in 2010.
‘I’ll always regret what I’ve put my family through. There’s a lot of shame and regret. People wonder why I haven’t broken down or shed a tear (in public). My tears are something that I hold close to me; they’re for me and my family,’ Cousins said at his retirement announcement.