The AFL will farewell two multiple-premiership winners at the end of the season, with Richmond’s Trent Cotchin and Geelong’s Isaac Smith announcing their retirements.
Cotchin captained the Tigers to three premierships
He has played more than 300 matches with the Tigers
Smith has won premierships with the Cats and Hawks
Cotchin and Smith confirmed on Thursday they would retire once their club’s respective 2023 campaigns conclude.
Speaking with his Tigers teammates on Thursday morning, three-time premiership captain Cotchin said it was time he hung up the boots after playing more than 300 senior matches.
“I am going to miss with all my heart the relationships, memories and experiences I have had these past 305 games,” Cotchin said.
“I accept reality and that my chapter has come to an end. My body is somewhat slowing down and is older than it once was.”
Cotchin made his senior debut with the Tigers in 2008 after being selected as the second pick in the national draft the previous year.
He enjoyed a decorated career, leading the Tigers to a drought-breaking premiership in 2017 – their first in 37 years — before winning back-to-back flags in 2019 and 2020.
Cotchin was awarded the 2012 Brownlow Medal alongside Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell after Jobe Watson gave up the honour in the wake of the Essendon supplements scandal.
He captained the Tigers in a club-record 188 matches and claimed three Jack Dyer Medals.
“Obviously Trent has achieved so much as a player, however, it is the power and impact of his leadership that has impressed me the most,” Tigers chief executive Brendon Gale said.
“After being appointed captain in 2012 at 22 years, Trent in his own way and through his own experience redefined leadership at our club.
“His renewed focus on self-understanding, self-acceptance, care, and connection was instrumental in unlocking the full potential of our players and team.”
Smith to call it quits
Smith claimed the Norm Smith Medal in the Cats’ grand final victory last year, having earlier won three flags during his time with Hawthorn.
The 34-year-old has played 277 senior matches for the Cats and Hawks.
“I am so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to play AFL football,” Smith said.
“It is every kid’s dream growing up and to have that play out for me across the last 13 seasons at two great clubs is something really special.
“From the time I walked into Hawthorn, and now being at Geelong, I have always felt right at home at both organisations and to this day have made some very special friendships and bonds with a lot of people.”
Isaac Smith was the Norm Smith medallist in Geelong’s 2022 grand final victory.(Getty Images: Michael Willson)
Smith joined the Hawks after being selected with pick 19 in the 2010 national draft.
He made his senior debut the following year, before completing a 210-match stint with the club in 2020.
His time at the Hawks was highlighted by their three consecutive premierships between 2013 and 2015.
Smith debuted for the Cats in 2021, so far playing 67 matches from a possible 70 with the club.
He became the oldest player to win the Norm Smith Medal when the Cats thrashed the Sydney Swans by 81 points in last year’s grand final.
Geelong general manager of football Simon Lloyd said Smith had played a pivotal role with the Cats during his time with the club.
“Over his three seasons at the Cats, we have been blessed to have Isaac wear the Geelong hoops,” he said.
“He is a unique individual and his ability to bring energy around the club is something that is going to be missed.”
Other AFL retirements in 2023 so far
Fischer McAsey: The 21-year-old quit the club at the start of the year, having played 10 games for the Crows in 2020.
Andrew Phillips: The 32-year-old will hang up the boots at the end of the team’s season. The ruckman currently has 79 games to his name, with 14 at the Giants, 27 at the Blues, and 38 at the Bombers.
Max Lynch: The 24-year-old ruckman was directed by doctors to retire from the game due to the risks of further concussion problems. He finishes with 11 games, with three at Collingwood and eight at Hawthorn.
Ben Cunnington: Farewells the game as one of the best contested ball winners of the past decade, with 237 games for the Kangaroos. The 32-year-old from Cobden, in south-west Victoria, won two club best and fairest medals.
Aaron Hall: The 32-year-old retires after 161 games, with 103 at the Suns and 58 at the Kangaroos. Used as a forward, a midfielder, and a defender at various times, he could only manage six games in 2023.
Jack Ziebell: The North Melbourne skipper from 2017 to 2022, he will retire at the end of the season about 20 games short of reaching the 300 mark.
Jason Castagna: The triple-premiership winning 26-year-old made the shock call to retire pre-season, after 134 games.
Robbie Tarrant: The key defender announced his retirement mid-season, after battling a chronic hip injury. The younger brother of former Collingwood champ Chris Tarrant played 174 games for North Melbourne and 20 for Richmond.
Lance Franklin: One of only six men to kick more than 1,000 VFL/AFL goals, the two-time premiership forward leaves the game as possibly the greatest player of the modern era.
Shannon Hurn: West Coast’s games record holder will hang up his boots at the end of the season with more than 330 games to his name. He finishes up as the 2018 premiership skipper and a two-time All Australian.
Luke Shuey: The 2018 Norm Smith medallist and two-time club best and fairest winner will retire at the end of the season just short of 250 games. The midfielder took over as West Coast captain from Hurn in 2019.
Source: AFL NEWS ABC