In the end, it wasn’t form or advancing age that finished off Brent Reilly’s career, but a crushing blow in pre-season training.
The Crows mainstay, who played 203 games after being selected at pick 12 in the 2001 national draft, retired today, a decision forced by a skull fracture in March that required emergency surgery and intensive rehabilitation.
“My medical team have told me that given the impact of the accident and subsequent surgery they are unanimous in their recommendation that I never again play a contact sport,” Reilly said.
He will “delve into coaching” for the remainder of 2015, mentoring younger players, with a focus on Adelaide’s undermanned backline.
However, he said his primary focus remained “recovery and resuming living a normal life”.
“While this is still some months away, clearly I will not be in a position to play football again,” the 31-year old said.
“Therefore, it is time to look forward and begin to plan the next phase of my life.”
He said being an AFL footballer was a “rollercoaster and I have had my fair share of ups and downs and this has helped me develop as a person”.
“I have learned that no matter what you do in life you will have highs and lows and it’s the work you do and the persistence you have in the lows that determines how high you can go,” he said.
“This is a message that I want to pass on to the current playing group.”
It comes amid reports Port Adelaide veteran Kane Cornes is set to retire after his 300th game in round eight against Richmond.
Media reports suggest the multiple best-and-fairest winner will instead join the MFS, whose recruitment intake begins mid-year.
The club has not commented on the reports, however Cornes told NewsCorp he had made no decision on his playing future.
Help our journalists uncover the facts
In times like these InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to donate to InDaily.