Brian Lake has struggled 'to fill that void' left by footy, says Adam Cooney

Friend and former teammate Adam Cooney has alluded to some of the challenges Brian Lake has faced since his AFL career finished after the three-time Hawthorn premiership player was detained in Japan.

Lake, 36, is understood to have been jailed in Osaka, where he had been playing in an Australian rules tournament for the Indonesia Volcanoes.

Brian Lake (left) and Adam Cooney represent the Western Bulldogs in 2009.

Brian Lake (left) and Adam Cooney represent the Western Bulldogs in 2009.

He recently posted a photo on Instagram celebrating with a trophy won at the event.

Former Bulldogs teammate Cooney hinted on Wednesday that Lake’s release from custody could be imminent.

“He’s going through a lot in his life, at the moment, since he’s finished playing footy. I think he’s been one of those players who struggled, at times, to fill that void,’’ Cooney told radio station SEN.

‘‘Because, contrary to popular belief, he actually loved the game of football and he was a bit of a footy head, he would watch every game every week [and] knew how every team played.

“No excuse whatsoever to what has allegedly happened over there but I’m feeling pretty sorry for him, hopefully he can get back home.”

Under Japanese law, Lake can be held for up to 23 days without charge. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has already confirmed to Fairfax Media it was working to help the former AFL player.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is making inquiries about an Australian in Japan who may require consular assistance and stands ready to provide assistance, in accordance with the Consular Services Charter, should it be requested. Owing to our privacy obligations we will not provide further comment," a DFAT spokesperson said.

Lake had been in Japan for the football tournament and it is understood that he was celebrating a victory with the team when an alleged scuffle occurred.

“There’s a bit going on with my old mate,” Cooney said of Lake, who retired from the AFL after Hawthorn’s 2015 flag.

“It’s been well publicised that he spent a couple of months over in Fiji doing Australian Survivor [and he] got back and [had] lost nearly 20 kilos.

Cooney and Lake at Bulldogs training, 2010.

Cooney and Lake at Bulldogs training, 2010.

“Then he’s been in Bali for the last couple of weeks with my old manager Ricky O [Ricky Olarenshaw], and I think [he] got drawn into an AFL Asia tournament over in Japan.”

Cooney said Lake would receive support from friends upon his return to Australia.

“It could be tonight that he gets out, and straight back home you would think to try and work on everything that’s happening in his life at the moment,” he said.

“As I said, obviously don’t want to condone what happened over there but feeling for him because he’s been going through a bit at the moment.”

“So when he gets home, [we will] help him out as much as we can, but unfortunately for big Brian he does bring a lot of it on himself, so it’s a fine balancing act.”

Lake’s manager, Marty Pask of i50 management, said this week his company that Lake was assisting Japanese authorities.

"Given the international constraints involved and out of respect to local governance, we won’t be commenting further at this stage," Pask said.

"We do ask that the privacy of Brian’s wife and children be respected during this stressful time."

Lake is no stranger to run-ins with the law, having been locked up for a night in 2013 following a drunken encounter at the Portsea Polo event.

Since retiring Lake has at various stages worked for Fox Footy, but a network spokesperson said the station had parted ways with the former defender: "After Brian Lake’s decision in April to travel overseas, Fox Footy rearranged its talent line-up and has not engaged with Brian since. He has no contractual arrangement with Fox Sports."

Lake would not be the first AFL player to struggle with life after AFL football, with a Four Corners report early last year highlighting the stories of former sportspeople struggling after the end of their careers, including former Essendon football player Courtenay Dempsey who told the program that all he knew was football.

“[I feel] like a piece of meat, just getting thrown and forgotten about once they know you’re done,” Dempsey said.

With Daniel Cherny

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