PORT ADELAIDE midfielder Tom Rockliff has announced his retirement, effective immediately.
Rockliff has been sidelined for much of the season having contracted blood clots and Deep Vein Thrombosis following an incident in May in which he injured both knees, requiring surgery.
The 31-year-old has been able to train in recent weeks having overcome his knee troubles but is unable to take part in contact drills or games while he remains on blood thinning medication.
Rockliff announced his decision to put his health first to his teammates on Tuesday morning.
“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. It hasn’t all been smooth or gone to plan, but to represent the Brisbane Lions and Port Adelaide Football Clubs – two amazing clubs in their own right with two very different histories - I feel really honoured and blessed to have been given the opportunity.
“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 will finish with 208 AFL games to his name including 54 since moving from Brisbane to Port Adelaide at the end of 2017.
Renowned for his leadership and sense of humour, the former Lions skipper used the period he has been unable to play to work with the coaching group, offering new ideas and developing his coaching craft.
Port Adelaide senior coach Ken Hinkley was saddened by the news of Rockliff’s retirement, but praised his character for continuing to be a positive influence around the group during his recovery and rehabilitation.
“Tom is outstanding person to have around the group, as much as sometimes he annoys the hell out of us,” Hinkley said.
“He would have to be one of the smartest players I have come across in my time in the game and it is a shame he has been unable to get back on the park following a very unusual and frankly pretty unfortunate set of injuries.
“It is telling of his character that he didn’t sit there and get down about his bad luck and instead continued to bring energy to the group and help guide our younger players.
“I’m sure Rocky won’t be lost to footy – whether that’s in a coaching role or somewhere in the media. We wish him, Sharna and Jack all the best going forward. He will always be part of the Port Adelaide family.”
Rockliff averaged 25.6 disposals per game across his career, ranking him elite amongst the competition’s midfielders.
He was an All-Australian in 2014, twice represented Australia in the International Rules (2014, 2015) and won Brisbane’s best and fairest in both 2011 and 2014.
Claimed by the Lions with pick 5 in the 2009 pre-season draft, Rockliff will finish with exactly 100 AFL goals.
He also holds the SANFL record for disposals in a single game, having accumulated an incredible 57 against North Adelaide in 2019.