Four more players have announced their retirements: North Melbourne midfielder Ben Cunnington, Eagle captain Luke Shuey, Essendon ruckman Andrew Phillips, and Hawthorn ruckman Max Lynch.
West Coast captain Luke Shuey will also retire at the end of the season, joining teammate Shannon Hurn. A string of hamstring injuries have curtailed his season and led to his decision, “As much as my mind wants to go on, my body won’t allow it and I have made the decision to retire at the end of this season. We have tried everything to get my body right ... I am incredibly grateful to the football club for the opportunities they have given me, the support I have received ... Being a part of a premiership means I will have a lifelong connection with 21 other blokes, but it doesn’t end there. The friendships I have made with players, coaches and staff over the last 15 years will remain with me forever ... ".
Senior Coach Adam Simpson said that he had enjoyed witnessing at close hand both Shuey’s impact as a player and also the influence he has had around the playing group through his strong leadership, “Luke has been a remarkable player ... he also been a wonderful role model and leader ... We have seen that impact even this year when he has been able to play but unfortunately, he has not been able to get out there as often as he would have liked .. He has driven high standards throughout his career and has certainly provided a great example right from the get-go for the young players ... ".
CEO Trevor Nisbett was also effusive in his praise, "Luke has been an outstanding contributor to our football club and will always hold a special place in our history. He is one of five Norm Smith medalists in our history and was pivotal to our comeback in the 2018 Grand Final against Collingwood. What the public don’t see is the passion and drive that he shows behind the scenes and the wide-ranging impact he has internally. Just like Shannon Hurn, who announced his retirement last week, Luke is universally respected around the football club and we will all miss him.”
Emerging Talent Award: 2011
Club Champion: 2016, 2019
Chris Mainwaring Medal (Best Clubman): 2016
Player of the Finals: 2019
North Melbourne champion and much-loved fan favorite Ben Cunnington has announced his retirement from the AFL. His last game was in Round 22 against Essendon.
Cunnington gained the support of the entire AFL community when he made an inspirational return from cancer treatment late last season. He played the first eight games of 2023, bringing his overall tally to 237. He has since been playing in the VFL but is still part of the team's leadership group.
He was drafted in 2009 and debuted the following year. 56, He went on to become one of the club’s most revered players, renowned for his toughness, calmness with the ball, and his incredible ability to fend off opponents. He is renowned for his handball expertise and still holds the AFL record for most contested possessions in a single game with 32 against Richmond in Round 8, 2018.
He was sidelined for most of 2020 with a back injury but came back in 2021 in excellent form before another medical setback - testicular cancer. The tumor was removed, and he underwent nine weeks of chemotherapy, but the cancer returned four months later. But he again persevered to return to play at the end of 2022.
He was emotional when speaking to his teammates, getting choked up as he spoke, "I couldn’t be more proud of what I’ve achieved on and off the field ... From the moment the club drafted me, it was a dream come true ... to walk into a club that suited my personality, and allowed me to be myself, I couldn’t have asked for a better recipe to get the best out of myself. I’m proud and grateful of what I’ve overcome in the past few years and for the club to give me the best chance and opportunity to play AFL footy again. But I felt I lost my hunger once I returned, my perspective in life was too great. Then when I fell out of the senior team, I struggled to have the motivation or drive to get back in. That’s when I knew it wasn’t fair on myself or you blokes that I continued on ... without being able to give my 100 per cent effort, especially when there are hungry young kids out there that would do anything for the opportunity and to help this team get better. To the club, thank you for the opportunity and journey for me to live out my childhood dream ... the club has always had me and my family’s best interest at heart on and off the field. It’s something I will never forget. This club means the world to me ... The learnings, the memories and the relationships I’ve made will last a lifetime.”
North Melbourne’s general manager of football Todd Viney paid tribute to Cunnington, " ... Ben is a man of very few words but when he speaks, his teammates listen. He won the respect of the entire footy community when he came back from his cancer treatment last year and he has only added to that legacy this year ... he’ll go down as one of the greatest and most-loved players in the club’s history ... ".
Games: 238 (through Round 21)
Goals: 96 (through Round 20)
Syd Barker Medal winner (club best and fairest) in 2014 and 2019, runner-up in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2021
All-Australian nominee in 2019
Premiership player: 2018
Norm Smith medalist: 2018
West Coast Eagles Life Member: 2017
Ruck journeyman Andrew Phillips has announced he will retire after 12 seasons at three AFL clubs. Phillips, 32, was an inaugural member of GWS, playing 14 games with the Giants before being traded to Carlton at the end of 2015. He played 27 games for the Blues in four seasons and crossed to Essendon at the end of 2019.
In making the announcement, he said, "I've been privileged to represent three great football clubs, ... I've loved my past four years here and it's the people here who have made my time in the red and black so enjoyable. As I've gotten older, I've realized that the most enjoyment you get out of football is working with your teammates and seeing them flourish. To be able to play alongside and guide my fellow rucks has been crucial to me enjoying my footy ... The time feels right to finish up and head home to Tassie ... ".
Having remained at the Bombers by signing four consecutive one-year contracts, Phillips told the AFL websites' Inside Trading back in April that he was hopeful of playing on in 2024, even if it meant another 12-month deal, "It's something I can live with now. Certainty is something you want. It's something where I always really wanted it, but it obviously never came ... ".
Essendon footy boss Josh Mahoney praised Phillips for his mentorship of Essendon's young rucks, both in the men's and women's competitions, "His career is the definition of resilience having started as a rookie and playing 12 seasons at three clubs. Andrew is a fantastic club person, always putting the team first and doing whatever he can to better his teammates. This was demonstrated through his mentorship of Sam Draper and Nick Bryan, as well as Steph Wales in the AFLW program.”
Young Hawthorn ruckman Max Lynch has been forced into premature retirement on medical advice that he no longer play contact sports due to concussion issue. Lynch, 24, was placed on the long-term injury list in May after suffering his ninth concussion in a match against Adelaide.
Originally drafted by Collingwood as a rookie in 2017, he played three games before being traded to the Hawks at the end of 2021. He suffered two concussions in his first season. He suffered another one in his first game for the Hawks in 2022 and missed 4 games. He suffered yet another concussion in Round 10 that year. He has played just 11 games in his short career. He said, This is definitely isn't how I wanted my career to come to an end, but I accept the decision and know it is the right one for my future. I want to thank the club for its support throughout the entire process, to have all of my teammates and coaches behind me has helped me immensely through this challenging period of my life."
Originally drafted by Collingwood in the 2017 rookie draft, Lynch played three senior games for the Magpies before moving to the Hawks at the end of 2021. He suffered a concussion in his Hawthorn debut in round one last season and didn't play again until round six. He then suffered another concussion when he copped a blow to the head in the dying minutes of the round 10 win over Brisbane.
While sidelined, he took up a role as an assistant coach for Hawthorn's AFLW team, Football manager Rob McCartney said, "Since entering the long-term injury list, Max has worked closely with our medical team to return to full cognitive baseline following his most recent concussion. This decision is to reduce any risk of future injuries that could change this situation. What I have been most impressed by is the resilience he has shown with the challenges that have been put in front of him. He is a much-loved member of the Hawthorn family, a great teammate and even better person. We will continue to support Max in any way we can as he embarks on the next phase of his life and career off the field.”
Source: afl.com.au, Stacey Oates, North Melbourne Media Release. Travis King, West Coast Media Release
Article last changed on Sunday, August 27, 2023 - 12:34 PM EDT