Richmond midfield star Ben Cousins has declared himself fit and ready to play in the AFL season-opener against Carlton at the MCG on Thursday night.
Cousins has been hospitalised twice in recent weeks with a stomach complaint.
The former West Coast skipper has only played in one of the Tigers' four pre-season games, but is now back in full training.
"I am going to be available and I'd like to think I can play (against the Blues)," Cousins told radio station Nova 100.
"It is whether the match committee think I have done enough.
"I only played one pre-season game, I was expected to play the last pre-season game and that's when I got crook, so it didn't come at a very good time.
"They've just got to weigh it all up, there is a fair bit of depth there, and some young guys coming through who could do the job quite comfortably and I could get another hit-out under my belt before playing."But I would love to play, it's been a big summer and we know what the build-up is to round one, especially playing Carlton."
But the match was a disaster for both player and club, with Cousins tearing his hamstring and the Tigers getting belted by 83 points."It's very different to this time last year, there's less hype about it, we go into the game definitely underdogs," Cousins said.
Cousins said his first few months under Hardwick had given him a different view of the former Essendon and Port Adelaide defender.
"I used to play on Damien a lot and he used to give me a clip for sure, (he was a) tough man," Cousins said."It's interesting coming through your career and coming across guys like Damien.
"Invariably they're the guys that once you come across them later in your career, you find out they're good blokes and you have a lot of time for them."They're the sort of guys you'd love to play with and hate to play against.
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