Slain underworld hitman Andrew "Benji" Veniamin is believed to be the hired gun who carried out the execution. In opposing bail for Vendetti in the Supreme Court yesterday, Senior-Detective Tim Bell said the accused killer had been under police surveillance since May this year.Sen-Det Bell said it had become apparent Vendetti was well-connected to criminal and sporting identities, including Cousins and gangland figures Mick Gatto and John Kizon.Cousins, 30, officially became a Tiger yesterday after the club selected him with the final pick in the pre-season AFL draft.A hero's welcome awaits him at the club's Punt Rd headquarters today where he will join teammates for a 9am training session."I am very excited about the opportunity," a jubilant Cousins said from Perth last night before flying into Melbourne."I want to thank everyone for what has transpired and I'm talking about my family, especially my Mum and Dad."And I want to thank Richmond and the support from all their fans in the past 48 hours."I can't wait to start training with the players and I'm looking forward to wearing the yellow and black and playing at the MCG."
Premier John Brumby led the chorus of footy fans congratulating the confessed drug user on his comeback."Everybody likes heroes in the AFL and he's been one of those heroes. He's got a chance to be a hero again," Mr Brumby said."He's a very talented footballer and it would be wonderful ... if he can prove to himself and to the public."Coach Terry Wallace said a groundswell of support for Cousins from Richmond fans and players had been instrumental in the club taking a punt on the former Eagle champ."AFL footy is about the game itself, it's about the players who play the game, and it's about the fans who come along to watch the game and I think strongly our decision is based on all three of those things," Wallace said.Cousins' manager Ricky Nixon said it was vital for Cousins to resurrect his career in the AFL's heartland.
"We were pretty keen to get Ben to Melbourne. I won't go into the details as to why, but as part of his rehab," Nixon said.And he said the resurgent Richmond, which won eight out of their last 11 games last season, was the perfect fit.Justice Bernard Bongiorno will rule today on Vendetti's bail application.
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