The Tigers announced yesterday – a day after the utility had joined teammates at an open training session – that they had released Yarran from his contract, effective immediately, so he can deal with ongoing mental health issues.
“Chris has found it difficult to meet the demands of AFL football given his personal issues,” Tigers football manager Neil Balme said in a club statement.
“Ultimately it was agreed with Chris, and his management, that stepping away from the game is in the best interest of his long-term health and wellbeing.”
After his first season was cruelled by injury and personal demons, Yarran’s manager Paul Connors told SEN radio the denouement was “a pretty gut-wrenching day”.
“He thought he could make it and he really tried his guts out, but in the end there was a thousand issues and we all decided that it was best for him to go back to Perth,” Connors said.
Carlton originally recruited Yarran with pick No.6 in the 2006 draft and he played 119 games for the Blues. He was traded after last season for pick 19, with the Tigers bullish about what he could add to their defence.
Crows star Betts once made up a formidable small forward ensemble with Yarran and fellow goalsneak Jeff Garlett, who now plays for Melbourne.
He posted an Instagram tribute last night, telling his former teammate “it is so hard to see you finish like this but you’ll always be the biggest gun in my eyes”.
“I have missed playing beside you but I’ll always be here for you,” Betts wrote.
“To all my brothers in AFL, I know it can get tough at times but we just have to speak up and help each other out it’s hard seeing young indigenous players pack up and leave.
“Mental health doesn’t discriminate. To the AFL fans, keep your commentary on this topic appropriate, you NEVER know what people are suffering from, these types of situations need support and understanding, not jokes or ridicule.”
It was great seeing you on the weekend brother and it is so hard to see you finish like this but you'll always be the biggest gun in my eyes, I have missed playing beside you but I'll always be here for you. To all my brothers in AFL, I know it can get tough at times but we just have to speak up and help each other out it's hard seeing young indigenous players pack up and leave. Mental health doesn't discriminate. To the AFL fans, keep your commentary on this topic appropriate, you NEVER know what people are suffering from, these types of situations need support and understanding, not jokes or ridicule.
At his peak, Yarran became a damaging half-back and finished fourth in Carlton’s 2014 best and fairest.
But his time at Richmond has been plagued with problems, with Yarran lacking fitness when he first arrived for pre-season training.
He was soon struggling with a calf injury and stepped away from the game midway through this season to deal with personal issues.
Still, he hired a personal coach and tried to rebuild his fitness over the last few weeks, holding out of hope of playing in the AFL for Richmond.
Yarran also did not play any VFL matches this season.
He trained with Richmond’s rehab group a fortnight ago as the Tigers started pre-season training.
“I am extremely grateful for the support Richmond has given me over the past year,” Yarran said in the club statement.
“I am deeply disappointed my ongoing health issues have not allowed me to repay the club and its supporters.”
It is unclear whether he will eventually try to make a football comeback.
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