Footy in a fever as star ends silence
LINGERING questions over why none of Alex Rance's teammates have paid tribute to the Richmond defender after he announced his retirement have been answered by young star Daniel Rioli.
The sudden end to Rance's career, which was followed by the revelation he had also split with his wife of seven years, Georgia, sent the rumour mill into overdrive during the holiday season.
While Tigers captain Trent Cotchin said the playing group would "always be there" for the 30-year-old during a press conference on December 19, former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas was one of many to query why more of Rance's colleagues didn't acknowledge the career end of a modern day great.
"Curious … where is the heartfelt outpouring of support and accolades from Tiger teammates since Rance retired," Thomas wrote on Twitter.
On Monday night, Rioli, 22, ended the perceived silence, posting a tribute to Rance, whose locker was next to his in the Richmond changerooms.
"Just wanted to congratulate this guy on an incredible career," Rioli wrote. "Thank you for being such a good teammate and leader for us. Gonna miss you as my locker buddy love ya bro."
Rance had toyed with calling it quits in 2015 but Cotchin conceded he was still shocked by this month's decision, which came as the star fullback made significant strides forward in his recovery from a knee injury that kept him out of the 2019 season, including the Tigers' grand final win.
"That would be a fair way of putting it," Cotchin said.
"He's really respectful of the culture that all of us have created here at the Richmond footy club, he's really proud of that," the skipper added. "He's really sad that he's not going to be a part of that from a day-to-day point of view but we'll always be there for him."
Rance, a Jehovah's Witness, listed his desire to pursue other areas of his life as the reason for finishing at the 200-game mark.
"I am someone who will always give their best to what they commit to, and I'm proud of the time, energy and dedication that I've put towards my football career," Rance said.
"Right now, I feel I have served my purpose in terms of my on-field performance and cultural impact, and I'm so grateful to the football club for their support and care in allowing me to do that in my own unique way.
"Now I feel is the right time for me to put the same time and energy into other areas of my life that need it, and to prioritise the more important things to me, such as my spiritual growth, my family and friends."
ALEX RANCE RETIREMENT TIMELINE
December 5 - Richmond releases a pre-season injury update declaring Rance is "on track" in his recovery from ACL surgery and "looking really good for the pre-season competition next year".
December 18 - The footy world is stunned as Rance reveals he is retiring. Richmond releases a video of the defender announcing the news. He is not present at a press conference held by CEO Brendon Gale and captain Trent Cotchin the following day.
December 27 - Revelation Rance has separated from wife Georgia, three months after they sold their home in Melbourne only a year after moving in.
December 29 - Ex-St Kilda coach Grant Thomas continues the chorus of footy fans questioning the lack of acknowledgement of Rance's retirement by Richmond players.
December 30 - Tigers forward Daniel Rioli posts a tribute to Rance on Instagram.