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Tom Rockliff retires from Port, Crows part ways with Lynch

Football

Port Adelaide midfielder Tom Rockliff has retired due to injury and after developing blood clots in his lungs, while Crows forward Tom Lynch is leaving the club after not being offered a new contract.

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Rockliff, a former Brisbane captain, joined the Power at the end of 2017 in search of a fresh start but he wasn’t able to reach the heights of his 2014 All-Australian campaign with the Lions.

His 2021 season was derailed in early May when he damaged both knees during a game in the SANFL.

After undergoing surgery he was rushed back to hospital after developing deep vein thrombosis.

Rockliff told teammates of his retirement on Tuesday morning, bringing an end to his 208-game career.

“I spoke with the specialist and the clot is still there. They can’t guarantee it’ll go away and if you get hit where that clot is, it can transport up to your lungs, so the risk factor was too high and it’s not really worth risking your life over,” he said.

“It is the best thing in the end for me to call time on my career. The people I have spoken to have celebrated with me but there have been a few tears shed. It’s been emotional but also the right thing to do.

“I think I’m one of the lucky ones. I played AFL footy for 200+ games, I was fortunate enough to captain a club, be in a leadership group at a couple of clubs and meet some incredible people.

“Overall, it’s been good for me to be able to thank all of those people who have been there on my football journey with me and supported me. Obviously, my family have been there the whole time – Mum and Dad and my Pa, my brother James and sister Kaitlyn, and obviously my partner Sharna and son Jack.

“Sharna and I have another son on the way and I can’t wait to see what comes next for us as a family.”

Rockliff, 31, was an All-Australian at Brisbane seven years ago before he captained the Lions in 2015 and 2016.

The two-time Lions best-and-fairest winner moved to Port as a restricted free agent before the 2018 season but his career never took off at the Power, despite being able to string together a series of strong displays in 2019 and 2020.

Meanwhile, Adelaide will part ways with Tom Lynch at the end of the AFL season after not offering the experienced forward a new contract.

The 30-year-old has been an important part of the Crows’ forward line since arriving from St Kilda for the 2012 season.

Lynch enjoyed his best seasons when Adelaide were in deep finals contention between 2015 and 2017 but has kicked just six goals in eight games this year.

He booted 42 goals in 2016 and finished with a career-high 10-goal haul during a game against GWS in 2013 – winning an All-Australian nomination and third place finish in the club’s best and fairest award.

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks hailed the contribution Lynch has made as a member of the Crows’ leadership group during the past five years.

“Tom has been described as ‘The Connector’ and it is a good description of the influence that he has had on and off the field, which has been significant,” Nicks said.

“On field he has been elite with his decision making and ball use. Off field, when it comes to prioritising others, Tom is second to none and as a senior leader he’s helped drive the cultural standards within the playing group.”

Lynch said he was hoping to add to his 161 career games before the end of the season and would soon decide if he is to try and play on a different club next year or retire.

“Naturally I would have loved to have kept playing but I am rapt to have experienced the journey with the Club and now with this young group, and I look forward to watching their development and their rise back up the ladder,” he said.

“I am also incredibly grateful to my wife Courtney and our three kids and the sacrifices they have made along the way in allowing me to pursue an AFL career.

-With AAP

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