Sydney stalwart Jarrad McVeigh has announced he would retire at the end of the season. McVeigh, 34, has played just five games this season due to quad, hamstring, and calf injuries. His last AFL game was Round 12. He was on the comeback trail through the NEAFL but strained a calf. He is still hopeful of a final farewell game in Round 23. McVeigh also thought of playing on in 2020, but the latest setback told him otherwise.
McVeigh was drafted in 2002 and has been a key to the team's recent success of 15 finals series and five Grand Finals. His 324 games is just one shy of former teammate Jude Bolton (323) and he is just one of four Swans to play 300 games, the others being Adam Goodes (372) and Michael O'Loughlin (303). And he will go down as one of the most decorated and influential players in the club's history.
A tearful Coach John Longmire paid tribute to McVeigh’s extraordinary career, “I was very fortunate to arrive at the club at the same time that a young curly haired Jarrad McVeigh was first drafted. To see him develop from a young player with talent into an elite AFL player and leader, has been a great privilege ... Jarrad has displayed the very best qualities - he’s talented, a fierce competitor, selfless, a great decision maker, strong leader, elite trainer, first-class football knowledge and a fantastic teammate .. As a coach, I’m forever indebted to how he has played and led this club. He walked into my office in 2011 when I first took over ... and said that he wanted to lead the club. He was appointed co-captain with Adam Goodes, and the next year stood on the stage absolutely exhausted on Grand Final day and held the Premiership cup aloft ... He then continued on to set a great example for every single player ... Jarrad has simply made as large an impact on and off the field as any player that we have had ... through this successful period".
McVeigh said he's been humbled by the messages he's received since his announcement, "To know that you've got their respect and you've left a mark ... I didn't want to pass through this club and not give everything I could. I feel like I've achieved a lot and left a pretty good legacy ...".
One of McVeigh's fondest game memories is his 2004 debut against Brisbane and the 2012 premiership win over the Hawks. Of that week he said, "Grand Final week is the most amazing ... experience ... and to be able to walk around the MCG with the medal around my neck ... it's the best feeling ...". He missed the Swans' drought breaking premiership win in 2005 due to injury and then suffered the heartbreak loss in 2006. In 2014, Sydney put on a very "unSwan" like performance in the Grand Final, suffering a humiliating 10-goal defeat against Hawthorn and McVeigh was scathing on his teammates for such a lackluster showing.
Just after McVeigh made his announcement, Coach Longmire sent texts to Goodes, Bolton and O'Loughlin, leading to an impromptu gathering at McVeigh's home, "I've got so much respect and admiration for those guys ... it was fantastic," McVeigh said, "We had plenty of laughs and reminisced about finals ... and footy trips ... It was just like being down in the change rooms again ...".
McVeigh will join the club's coaching staff in November.
First goal: Round 1, 2004 vs Brisbane
Swans Most Improved (2006)
Bob Skilton Medal (club best and fairest 2008, 2013)
International Rules side (2010, 2014)
Sydney Swans co-captain (2011-2016)
AFL Premiership (2012)
Swans Players' Player Award (2013)
Swans Best Player in Finals (2013)
Swans Best Clubman (2014)
Played 300th game in Semi Final, 2017 vs Geelong
AFL Games: 324 (202 wins, 4 draws, 118 losses)
28 finals games (7th of all-time, behind Michael Tuck with 39)
AFL Goals: 200
Source: Loretta Johns, Sydney Media Release, afl.com.au, AFL Record Season Guide
In mid-July when Fremantle Coach Ross Lyon conceded Harley Bennell would not be with the club in 2020, he also expressed hope for some sort of "medical guru" who could cure Bennell of his leg woes. Well, it seems that hope may come true.
Renowned Geelong based sports physiotherapist Peter Stanton, who helped remedy star Cat Tom Hawkins' back problems, identified the problem as a nerve issue in Bennell's leg. Stanton has held leading roles at AFL clubs Brisbane and Geelong, was at the Australian Institute of Sport for a decade, attended three Olympic Games, and is considered a calf expert.
Bennell had surgery in late July in Brisbane which involved removing scarred muscle tissue. The surgery was deemed a success. Bennell returned to Perth after the surgery but will again go to Brisbane in several weeks for further surgery on his left calf.
Bennell's injury history:
- Sunday, March 2, 2014 – Bennell plays a preseason game for Gold Coast against Collingwood but a problematic calf issue sidelines him for a month.
- Pre-Christmas, 2015 – Suffers a calf injury and has 'ongoing calf problems' during the preseason.
- Saturday, March 19, 2016 – Calf strain playing for Peel Thunder. Picked up 23 disposals and slotted four goals before the injury.
- Friday, November 18, 2016 – Left calf strain at training, which was then considered his 'good' calf.
- Sunday, December 10, 2016 – Bennell leaves for Munich, Germany, to consult with world-renowned soft-tissue expert Dr Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt.
- Tuesday, April 4, 2017 – Another left calf injury. Initially diagnosed as a minor tear but further scans showed it was more serious. Had yet to resume full training before that setback.
- Wednesday, February 14, 2018 – Grade one tear in his left calf while training with Peel.
- Saturday, June 2, 2018 – Calf tightness in his fourth-straight game for Peel. Sat out the second half.
- Saturday, July 28, 2018 – Left calf injury while playing for Peel. Pulled up short early in the last quarter after a 27-disposal and two-goal effort, went to the bench, but eventually returned to the field.
- Saturday, August 18, 2018 – Calf injury while playing for Peel in the second half of a match against Claremont, attempting a comeback after three weeks on the sidelines.
- Week of January 21, 2019 – Bennell experiences calf tightness during a preseason training session.
- Friday, February 8, 2019 – Bennell strains a calf while training.
- Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - Bennell experiences calf soreness at the end of training. An ultrasound showed no abnormalties, but an MRI confirmed he had re-injured his right calf.
- Saturday, June 23, 2019 - Bennell suffers a 'significant right calf tear' early on in his fourth straight WAFL game as he was closing in on an AFL recall.
- Week of July 22, 2019 - Bennell undergoes surgery in Brisbane
Article last changed on Monday, August 12, 2019 - 8:15 PM EDT