Ben Cousins’ stalled AFL career will remain in limbo until next month after Brisbane ruled out selecting him in Saturday’s national draft.
But the Lions have not ruled out picking up Cousins in the pre-season draft on December 16, which now looms as the troubled footballer’s only hope of a career lifeline.
St Kilda dropped out of the Cousins chase on Tuesday.
And of the other 15 clubs, only the Lions have expressed any interest in signing the 30-year-old Brownlow Medallist as he attempts to rebuild his AFL career following drug problems and a 12-month ban for bringing the sport into disrepute.
Cousins confirmed on Wednesday he would nominate for the national draft, opening the way for him to be considered for selection both on Saturday and in December.
“I hope to get the opportunity to return to the game that I love,” he said.
“Playing football at the highest level again is an important part of my ongoing rehabilitation and I believe that I can be a valuable contributor at an AFL club.”
Cousins would have to be picked up in either the national or pre-season drafts to resume his career, otherwise he would be unable to play AFL in 2009.
Brisbane have seven vacancies on their list for next season and would only have to give up their last pick in Saturday’s national draft, No.82, and have sufficient salary cap room to choose Cousins in December.
It is understood sections of the Lions’ board have serious reservations about signing Cousins, though sources say new coach Michael Voss wants to throw the ex-West Coast midfielder a lifeline.
Lions skipper Jonathan Brown also threw his support behind any bid to recruit Cousins.
“Personally I would support it,” Brown said.
“He’s a fantastic player and I think he has a fair few miles in the legs and an extra speedy midfielder certainly wouldn’t hurt the Lions’ chances.”
Voss confirmed he and Lions football manager Graeme Allan met with Cousins in Perth last weekend to assess whether he would be worth the risk.
“We went over on Saturday and spoke to him and that’s about as far as it’s gone so far,” Voss said.
“We’ve done a number of things both internally and externally to be able to find out where he’s at.
“I think when we talk about anyone who we want to bring to our organisation we’re always looking to what they add to the value of the Brisbane Lions football club, that’s the most important thing.
“We hold some things as a football team quite dear and as a football team they’re very, very important to us.”
Cousins has not played since late 2007 after he was sacked by former club West Coast, and he later confessed to battling drug addiction.
Any Lions bid to recruit Cousins may also hinge on whether the club decides to take a punt on another recycled player, ex-Swans forward Nick Davis.
The goalsneak has been training with the Lions, with the club facing a similar dilemma to the one they face with Cousins as it weighs up whether to take a punt on him either in Saturday’s draft or in December.