Richmond star Alex Rance has pulled the pin on his plans to make a stunning AFL return this season following a knee reconstruction.
The star defender revealed he would never forgive himself if his return from a knee reconstruction cost the Tigers a finals win.
The club released a video of Rance explaining his rationale on Wednesday evening after he informed team-mates of the decision earlier in the day.
Rance ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in Round 1 this season, undergoing surgery that would usually require ten 12 months to fully recover from.
But he has been bullish on his prospects of a return from the outset and has trained strongly recently to raise hopes inside and outside the club.
The 29-year-old is delighted with his speed and endurance work, the strength of his right leg and is close to full extension in the knee, but there is one key variable that ultimately cruelled his comeback bid.
“The thing that I couldn’t control, and no one really can, is the graft itself and how well that really knits within my knee,” Rance said.
“So that’s one thing which is a real unknown and something that the club and I really had to think good and hard about… whether we were going to take that risk or not.
“Some things that I wasn’t willing to risk was the game day emotional toll that a re-injury could have taken and also the rotation.
“If I came back in a final and ruptured my knee and that cost us that game then I would never be able to forgive myself.
“That’s something that I couldn’t really live with.”
Rance will spend a week away from the club to clear his head and is hopeful his selfless decision will allow the team to concentrate on snaring a top-four spot.
The Tigers were widely written off as a genuine premiership threat when it was confirmed the popular defender required a reconstruction, but Damien Hardwick’s men have confounded the doomsayers.
With three rounds to play before finals, Richmond are fourth on the ladder with a 13-6 record, with Dylan Grimes in All Australian form playing Rance’s role in the back half.