Demon champion Nathan Jones announced his retirement less than two weeks before the Grand Final. He informed his teammates via Zoom after leaving the club's hub in Perth to return home to be by his wife's side as she gave birth to twins. He flew out Saturday and made it just hours before she gave birth. Jones, 33, has not played a senior game since Round 14. He was an unused sub for Round 15 but was not recalled since. With West Australia's tight border restrictions, it was unlikely he would be allowed back across the border for the Grand Final. His career finishes with 101 wins, 198 defeats, and three draws. He kicked 141 goals in his 302 games. He was a Rising Star nominee in 2006 and 2007 and won the club best and fairest 2012, 2013, and 2014. He was co-captain in 2014 and 2017-19 and captain in 2015 and 2016.
St Kilda Saints
A few days after the Semi-finals, West Coast announced three departures. Mark Hutchings and Brendon Ah Chee were delisted and ruckman Nathan Vardy retired. Hutchings, 30, played 120 games in nine seasons. He was a member of the 2018 Grand Final and played a key role in the game, shutting down Magpie star Steele Sidebottom.
Ah Chee, 27, was originally drafted by Port Adelaide in 2011 and played 27 games with the Power before being traded to the Eagles at the end of 2017. He was delisted and re-rookie listed by the Eagles at the end of 2019. He played 28 games for the Eagles. Vardy, 30, was drafted by Geelong in 2011 and played 25 games for the Cats before being traded to the Eagles at the end of 2016 and played 52 games including the 2018 premiership.
Just a few days after Round 23, the AFL held their annual Hall of Fame ceremonies. Two current members were elevated to Legend status and there were four new inductees. West Australian Merv McIntosh and legendary SANFL coach Jack Oatey were elevated. The inductees were Nathan Burke, Chris Judd, Rob Wiley, and footy female pioneer Debbie Lee. Lee is the first woman to be inducted. Former Sydney star Adam Goodes declined to be inducted, due to his feeling that the AFL failed to support him properly when he was subjected to radial vilification in the last two years of his career. Garry McIntosh, a dual SANFL premiership player in 1982 and 1984 and games’ record-holder for the Norwood, also declined entry, saying he had not played the game for personal honors.
Young forward Tyson Stengle, 23, has officially been delisted. He was originally drafted by Richmond in the 2017 rookie draft and played two games before being traded to Adelaide at the end of 2018. However, he has had several off-field indiscretions. He was originally stood down last December but was officially stood down from the club this past March and has been playing with Woodville-West Torrens since. The Adelaide Crows released a statement confirming that the player and club had come to an agreement to end Stengle's employment. Stengle kicked 15 goals in 16 games for the Crows.
The AFL Supplementary Selection Period (SSP) ended on March 9 with eight clubs selecting 12 players. Several had been delisted by other clubs and were invited to train with other clubs in the hope of being selected. Below are the clubs and their selections.
Just two weeks before the 2021 season proper is due to commence, Saint Dylan Roberton, 29, has announced his retirement on the advice of his doctors. In 2018, Roberton collapsed during a game against Geelong, it was discovered he had a heart irregularity. He was cleared to play for 2019, but suffered another incident during the preseason and sat out all of 2019. He made it back for the opening round last season, but then the pandemic hit and he missed the rest of the year. In mid-January, he took a break from the club to consider his future.
The AFL has announced their annual life members and the winners of the Jack Titus Award for service to the game. The life membership awards will officially be presented at the league AGM in March. Nine players and coaches qualified automatically by reaching the total of 300 games as either player or coach, including preseason games and international rules.
St Kilda defender Dylan Roberton is taking some time away from the game to contemplate his career. Robertton, 29, collapsed during a game against Geelong in 2018 due to a heart condition. He returned for the 2019 preseason but suffered another incident during a game and sat out the entire season. He came back for the first round of the 2020 season but again missed the rest of the year.
The preseason and rookie drafts were held about a week after the National Draft. The rookie list was primarily used to officially relist senior players as rookies. They included Grant Birchall (Brisbane), Sam Reid (GWS Giants), Marty Gleeson (Essendon), Dylan Clarke (Essendon), Roarke Smith (Western Bulldogs), Daniel Venables (West Coast) and Bailey Banfield (Fremantle).
Just after the AFL Draft. Australian Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced that the government would contribute $8.5 million toward a new meatal health facility to be named after the late Danny Frawley . The Victorian government has also committed $7.3 million and there will be other philanthropic contributions to the Danny Frawley Center for Health and Wellbeing which will be located at St Kilda’s home base of Moorabbin Reserve, near the club Danny loved.