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AFL News: Pies flag hero announces concussion-forced retirement, Larkey confident North can turn season around

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16th April, 2024

Collingwood premiership defender Nathan Murphy has been forced into a premature and immediate AFL retirement through concussion to prioritise a “full and healthy life” beyond football.

Murphy was concussed by a high collision early in last year’s grand final and hasn’t played since, with the defender opting out of match simulation training in February.

The Magpies said following careful consideration, with the advice of the AFL’s medical concussion panel, the decision was made for Murphy to “medically retire” from football.

The 24-year-old informed his teammates of his decision on Tuesday morning.

He had suffered multiple concussions prior to starting, and during, his AFL career.

Murphy is the second player this year to retire through a concussion suffered in last year’s finals series.

Melbourne midfielder Angus Brayshaw called time in February after he was knocked out in an attempted smother from Murphy’s Collingwood teammate Brayden Maynard in last year’s qualifying final.


Like Brayshaw, the reason behind Murphy’s retirement was a focus on his health beyond football.

“I feel it is the right time and the right decision for me to hang up my footy boots,” Murphy said in a statement.

“I love my football, but my priority is on my future and ensuring I live a full and healthy life.

“I’d like to thank the club, coaches, teammates, staff and the Magpie Army for all their support throughout my playing career and for allowing me the opportunity to live out my childhood dream of playing AFL.

“It is not lost on me how fortunate I am to have been able to experience premiership success with this group and club.

“I hope I did the jumper proud and thank the many people and supporters who helped me along the way.”


In last year’s grand final triumph, Murphy was concussed in a first quarter collision with Brisbane’s Lincoln McCarthy, when his head hit the Lion’s shoulder, and he was subsequently substituted out of the game.

The premiership player was examined by the league’s concussion panel and was ultimately given the green light last December to resume playing.

But he ultimately didn’t feature in a match again for Collingwood, before making his final decision on his career this week.

Key defender Murphy played 57 games, including 24 in his breakout campaign last season as a crucial part of Collingwood’s backline.

“On behalf of everyone at Collingwood, we thank Nathan for his contribution to our club and commend him on the maturity he has shown throughout this period,” football boss Brendon Bolton said in a statement.

“While we will miss ‘Murph’, he’ll forever be a part of Collingwood’s history as a 2023 premiership player.

“On behalf of the entire club, we wish him all the best for this next chapter.”


Larkey confident North can turn season around

North Melbourne star Nick Larkey has declared it would be his worst nightmare if he left Arden St before the Kangaroos emerged as a premiership contender.

As he prepares for a major milestone on Sunday, the 25-year-old forward has played in just 20 wins across his first 99 games at North.

Larkey, who was taken with pick 73 in the 2016 draft, is staying loyal to the Kangaroos after signing on at the club until the end of the 2029 season.

The three-time North leading goal-kicker has no ambitions to chase short-term success elsewhere, saying the “tough times are going to make the good times even better”.

“Despite the win-loss record I’ve had, and we’ve all had, I’ve still enjoyed every minute I’ve had at North Melbourne, and that’s why I signed up long-term,” Larkey said on Monday.


“I didn’t sign up thinking it would turn instantly.

“I saw enough last year and previous years to know there were small signs here and there, it might not turn overnight, but I know eventually it will turn.

“My nightmare would be to be at the club for all the tough times, take off, then all of a sudden we get good.

“I want to be a part of the club when it gets good because we’ve been through the tough times.

“When we do turn it’s going to make it even sweeter.”

Larkey insists he loves a “challenge” and believes a premiership elsewhere would not feel as satisfying.

“I think anyone can run to a top team and try win a flag, but does that flag mean as much as the one where you’ve done the hard work and put in the hours through the tough times? I don’t think so,” he said.

Is Nick Larkey in the AFL's top 50 players?

Is Nick Larkey in the AFL’s top 50 players? (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

“That’s the success I want is the one that is forged through a bit of adversity.”

Meanwhile, North young gun Colby McKercher has been cleared of rib damage following a collision with Geelong star Jeremy Cameron during Sunday’s 75-point defeat to the Cats.

McKercher was subbed out of the match at quarter-time and sent to hospital for scans.

But last year’s No.2 draft pick was given the all-clear and spent the night at home, keeping him in contention to face Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium this Sunday.

Dunstall not sure if he’d cut it these days

Former Hawthorn champion Jason Dunstall flashed a wry grin when he delivered his personal assessment of how he would have fared in the modern AFL environment.


“I wouldn’t get through pre-season, to be brutally frank,” the 59-year-old said.

On Monday, it was announced Dunstall would be elevated to Legend status in the Australian Football Hall of Fame on June 18.

The four-time premiership Hawk is only the 32nd person in the history of the game to be given that title.

But Dunstall, who who sits third on the all-time list of AFL/VFL goal-kickers with 1254 majors, isn’t sure he would have flourished under the demands of the modern game.

“I don’t know if I’d be a good enough athlete, honestly,” he said.


“But you kind of think if you were brought up in a different time, you’d be physiologically a little different and better prepared to come into the game.

“Because they have such a great pathway now, which wasn’t really in existence back in the eighties.

“Look, maybe, but I don’t know where I’d play because I’d be too small to play midfield. I’d be a (forward) pocket or a flank, I think.”

Dunstall was listed at 188cm and 98kg, making him shorter and heavier than Brownlow Medal-winning modern midfield beasts Patrick Cripps (195cm, 92kg) and Nat Fyfe (192cm, 96kg).

The former Hawthorn captain kicked a century of goals in six separate seasons and would rightfully have few regrets about how his glittering 269-game career played out before his retirement in 1998.

But he said his advice to his younger self would be a simple message.


“Be a better athlete before you get here and work on your endurance a little bit,” he said.

“But I was lucky, we never ran up and down the ground the way they do now. It’s such a different game.”

One that he still loves?

“Whilst the game’s changed a lot, the basic premise for me hasn’t,” Dunstall said.

“There are still some great games to watch and still some where I think I’ve just wasted a couple of hours.

“That’s forever and a day the way it’s going to be. It’s a fantastic sport, you just enjoy the ride while you can.”

Dunstall was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.


Since retiring as a player, he has served as an assistant coach and board member at Hawthorn and is now a respected media commentator.

with AAP