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Lewis Roberts-Thomson arrived at Sydney in 2001 with a shaggy mop of blond hair and a rugby background. He debuted in 2003 after an injury-riddled 2002 and quickly established himself as a fan favorite. Although he had doubts he could make it in the AFL, Roberts-Thomson leaves the game after 13 seasons and 179 games as a two time premiership player. He recently announced his immediate retirement after being restricted to just five games this year. He had considered trying to get back for the final games this year but realized he was mentally and physically shot.
When interviewed on SEN, 'LRT' - as he is affectionately known - said he was satisfied with what he had achieved and paid tribute to Sydney's supporters, saying they were what made the club tick. Admitting he wasn't the most skilled player, he said his play "was based on attitude and intensity " and he was always willing to sacrifice his game for the team. What he may have lacked in talent, he made up for with grit and determination. Although he spent most of his career in defense, LRT did spend time up forward as well in recent seasons. He said the evolution of the game made it necessary to learn different positions. For the record, he kicked 50 career goals.
Coach John Longmire said the 30-year old had been a big game player, playing a pivotal role in the 2005 and 2012 Grand Finals, saying 'Lewie' had been "an outstanding competitor for a long period of time. One of his great assets has been his ability and willingness to adapt to any role he has been given ... LRT has been a fan favorite - perhaps even a cult figure - and I’m sure all our fans are thankful for his wonderful contribution to this club." Longmire recalled how LRT would line up against Barry Hall at training in an effort to improve and test himself "against the best". LRT had a few losses and bloody noses after going up against Hall but he never stopped trying. The improvement was evident when he played all but one game in his debut season, including the Preliminary Final against Brisbane. Two years later, he was one of Sydney's best in their Grand Final win against West Coast. He conceded both height and weight to opponent Michael Gardner but still restricted the Eagle to just six possessions and two behinds.
In 2012, LRT again played a pivotal role, first up forward, then in defense and even a stint in the ruck. That performance led to the launch of t-shirts emblazoned with the caption
'LRTee - September's finest' on the front. When asked about his cult status, Roberts-Thomson said he just preferred to play his role for the team but did say the roar of the crowd when running out on to the SCG was inspiring and exciting.
He walked a lap of honor at half-time during the Round 21 game against St Kilda.
Source: afl.com.au, sen.com.au
Gold Coast defender Tom Murphy has announced he will retire at the end of the season. Murphy joined the Suns as an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2012 after 95 games with Hawthorn since 2005. A versatile defender who could play on tall and small forwards, he became a key in the back line for the young Suns, especially with experienced duo Nathan Bock and Matthew Warnock out injured for much of the season. Murphy has played just one senior game this year. He reflected on his career, "The journey has gone very quickly, but I leave with many great memories and friends. I hope ... I’ve played my role in establishing the Gold Coast Suns. I wish the team all the very best for the future and look forward to watching the club go on to bigger and better things in the years to come. I feel very fortunate to have played footy over the last ten seasons with both the Hawthorn and Gold Coast."
Murphy won Hawthorn's Most Improved Player award in 2008 and was named best clubman in 2010.
Source: goldcoastfc.com.au, AFL Record Season Guide
Brisbane midfielder Brent Moloney won't see out the season, opting to retire immediately after battling an Achilles injury for the past several weeks. Moloney, 30, played just five senior games this year. He was the substitute in Round Five but has been in the reserves since. Although considered for a recall, Coach Justin Leppitsch opted to give younger players a chance.
Moloney was originally selected by Geelong in the 2003 Preseason Draft and played 23 games with the Cats before being traded at the end of 2004 to Melbourne. He quickly established himself as a midfield stalwart for the struggling Demons and had perhaps his best season in 2011. A pre-season nightclub incident saw him stripped of the vice-captaincy but strong performances on the field saw him reinstated mid-season. He went on to win the club's best and fairest award at the end of the year. He fell out of favor in 2012 under new coach Mark Neeld and played only 15 games for a total of 122. Moloney joined Brisbane at the end of the year as a restricted free agent. He notched his 150th senior game last year and went to play a total of 21 more games for the Lions. He won a Rising Star nomination in 2003 and played in Brisbane's 2013 pre-season premiership.
Lions General Manager, Football Operations, Dean Warren, said: “Brent is a fantastic character and we are fortunate to have had him ... Brent has been a great mentor for our young playing list ... and will be sorely missed". Speaking exclusively to Lions TV, Moloney said he would like to be remembered as an “honest bloke” and a “good teammate.”
Clare Pettyfor, Brisbane Media Release, sen.com.au
Just before Round 20, Jason Winderlich announced that 2014 would be his final season. Winderlich, 29, was drafted in 2002 and debuted in 2003. Through Round 21, he had played 124 games and kicked 81 goals. His lightning pace, defensive pressure and accurate kick for goal saw Winderlich carve out a successful career in the Bombers' forward line. He has averaged 15 disposals, 5 marks and 3 tackles per game and retires as a respected, talented and extremely loyal teammate.
In making the announcement, he said “I’ve enjoyed every single minute during my time here at Essendon ... To be drafted to the club you supported as a kid was a dream come true. I would have been honored to play the one game, so to pull on the jumper for twelve years has been an absolute privilege. I’m certainly going to miss the banter ... and playing alongside a great group ... but I’ve got a young family and I have to think about my long term future ... it’s fair to say the body probably didn’t have another full preseason in it.”
Winderlich had his fair share of injuries and there were times he thought his career would be cut short, but with the support of his teammates and the medical staff, he persevered. “I’ve been through some tough times but those challenges made me the player I am ... This club not only helped me become a better player but ... I’ve made some great mates and it's opened up a number of doors that will help me after footy.”
Club doctor Bruce Reid joked that he probably spent more time with Winderlich than his own children. “He’s like one of my kids. You always develop a really strong bond with the players who spend time in rehab and he’s certainly spent his fair share of time in the rehab group. Licka is a remarkably strong person, he overcame so many obstacles, he had back complications, knee reconstruction and multiple hamstrings ... to play over a hundred games ...is a great testament to his resilience and determination.”
Acting Coach Mark Thompson was effusive in his praise of Winderlich, who has been a member of the leadership group. “For Licka to carve out a career he did, with all the challenges he faced, really is an incredible achievement ... He’s a smart player and his blistering speed allowed him to change the momentum of a game ... he’s been a great leader and mentor for the younger players and he will be missed, there’s no doubt about that.”
Upon retirement Winderlich will turn his attention full time to his recycle timber business.
Article last changed on Friday, August 22, 2014 - 6:43 AM EDT