The footy regret that ‘eats at’ ruck powerhouse
Dean Cox says his greatest regret is West Coast's failure to keep its premiership-winning list together, wishing he had done more to arrest West Coast's partying culture.
But while Cox admits too many players went off the rails after the 2006 premiership, he says the flag is not tainted in any way.
The greatest ruckman of his generation was last night inducted into Australian football's Hall of Fame, thankful he could help pave the way for the current fleet of midfielders with brilliant skills and relentless run.
His herculean efforts to help seal the 2006 premiership were epic, but the Eagles' side was soon disbanded when it should have been in a position to challenge for several more years.
Cox wrote in his autobiography he could see why people said the club's achievements were "tarnished" given the drug-fuelled exploits of Ben Cousins and up to 10 players taking drugs over that 2006-07 off-season.
He believes senior players including himself could have done more to rein in that culture given the fallout for some premiership players.
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"If you look back now it's fitting that over the games we played (against Sydney) we both got one flag, but the thing that eats at me is we couldn't hold our team together for long enough to challenge for more. We had a team that could," he told the Herald Sun.
"It is still the case, you wish you could have done more than you did (to pull up players like Cousins) and there were a lot of us who were really close. Unfortunately things didn't eventuate where everyone had a rosy end to their careers. And that's something that still sticks in my mind. It is an opportunity that I wish I had taken. And it wasn't just Ben at times then and I look at Ben and wish things could be different for him but it wasn't solely Ben."
AFL premiership coach Robert Walls and legendary journalist Mike Sheahan have both labelled that premiership "tainted" but Cox says it stacks up because the players earned every win.
"No way is the premiership tainted," he said. "People say it and challenge it and so it was tainted through that period but there was nothing taken. We were tested more than most clubs, I would imagine.
"One thing people don't see and they jump to the end results, but it was the amount of work we put in. That gave us confidence and belief that we could beat anyone so just through pure hard work the playing group went above and beyond to prepare ourselves. And when the time came we would run sides into the ground."
Originally published as The footy regret that 'eats at' ruck powerhouse