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Cousins ready to carve AFL career

Cousins big on debut James Cousins played a well rounded tough performance against the Swans in his debut match for the Hawks.

James Cousins acknowledges he has experienced opposite ends of the spectrum in the opening two games of his promising AFL career.

Having debuted in Round 10 this year against Sydney, the 19-year old showed strong signs as he helped the Hawks claim a last-gasp win over their archrivals.

Six days later, the Hawks were monstered by a rampant Port Adelaide outfit, as the home side’s blistering first half put the result beyond doubt before the half-time siren sounded.

“I think that’s just a part of football and something you have to learn to deal with,” Cousins said.

It’s an impressive attitude for a young man in his first year in the intimidating AFL system.

But this roller coaster of emotions is somewhat familiar to the Murray Bushrangers product.

After enduring the pain of being overlooked in last year’s national draft, Cousins waited with bated breath, as the Rookie Draft order was announced three days later.

Cousins was forced to wait until pick 46 of the rookie draft before he heard Hawthorn finally call his name.

“I was very surprised when my name did get called,” Cousins said. 

“I guess, after the national draft, I was still hopeful but I had reasonable expectations of myself so when I finally heard my name I was pretty stoked.”

Cousins was a stand-out in the TAC Cup competition last year, averaging 23.8 disposals, 10.4 contested possessions, 4.8 marks, 4.2 inside 50s, 4.4 tackles and 4.8 clearances. As a result, the midfielder was recognised with the Murray Bushrangers best and fairest award, and selected in the TAC Cup Team of the Year.

Seemingly unfazed by the step up, Cousins has emulated almost identical numbers in the VFL this year, taking to the next level like a duck to water. 

Cousins’ averages over his six games in the VFL make for impressive reading: 24 disposals, 10.2 contested possessions, 5.5 marks, 4.1 inside 50s, 6.2 tackles and five clearances. 

His consistent, strong VFL performances meant Cousins was banging the door down for senior selection and he was rewarded in Round 10 with an elevation to Hawthorn’s senior list, and an opportunity to perform on the big stage.

Read: How do our U22 stack up with the competition?

“It was nice to break into the side and get my opportunity against Sydney," the midfielder said modestly. 

“It’s obviously a big step up. I think in my first game I was just so excited to get out there that, once things started happening and I got my hands on the ball a couple of times, I just started to play footy and things went from there.

“I’m obviously very proud to get a game and play for Hawthorn, but I’m not going to be content with just two games so, hopefully, I can keep my head down and just do my best to keep myself in the senior side.”

Read: Where have the 'unsociable Hawks' gone?

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs