PORT ADELAIDE utility Jack Watts has announced his retirement from AFL football, effective immediately.
Watts notified the club of his decision this week.
The 29-year-old came to Alberton in the 2017 trade period from Melbourne and played 21 games before suffering a serious leg injury early last year.
He has not played a competitive game since then and he admitted that the physical and mental toll of the recovery played a part in his decision.
“I have been thinking long and hard about my future for a while and contemplating retirement,” Watts said.
“Since my injury, I feel my body has let me down and I have been struggling with the physical and mental requirements of getting back to the level of fitness that’s required at AFL level.
“Speaking with Ken (Hinkley) and Chris (Davies) and my manager in the last few weeks, it feels like the right decision for me to step away and look for new challenges in the next phase of my life.
“I feel lucky to have had 12 years in the game and while there have been some challenges, there have also been some amazing memories both at Melbourne and Port Adelaide.
“I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities and experiences footy has given me and the friendships I will take with me away from the game.
“I’m not sure what the future holds just yet but I’m looking forward to some time away from the limelight.”
After spending much of his career as a forward, Watts made the transition into defence ahead of the 2019 season and was highly regarded for his composure, marking ability and kicking efficiency.
Port Adelaide Senior Coach Ken Hinkley said beyond his on-field ability, Watts' enthusiasm and energy would be missed around the club.
“We all know Jack’s football ability, and we would have liked to have seen him on the field a lot more for our club,” Hinkley said.
“People might not realise just how important and loved he is around our playing group because of his character.
“Jack always has a way of lifting everyone’s spirits, even when things weren’t going so well for him in the last couple of years. He’ll be missed around the group.”
Watts was initially drafted at pick 1 by Melbourne in the 2008 AFL National Draft and made his debut the following year in a Queen’s Birthday clash against Collingwood.
He finishes his career with 174 AFL games across a twelve-year career, booting 161 goals in that time.