Brendon Gale, Trent Cotchin hope he is not lost to Richmond

“That would be a fair way of putting it,” Cotchin said at Punt Road Oval when asked if he was shocked but not surprised by Rance’s call.

Rance tried to break the news to his teammates in “typical ‘Rancey’ fashion with a bit of humour”, according to Cotchin, even though there was “sadness” attached to the announcement.

Trent Cotchin said there was humour in Rance’s announcement, but sadness too.Credit:Getty Images

“I think he handled himself really well,” Cotchin said.

“He’s really respectful of the culture that all of us have created here at the Richmond footy club, he’s really proud of that. He’s really sad that he’s not going to be a part of that from a day-to-day point of view but we’ll always be there for him.”

Gale said Rance made his decision with “a heavy heart” and the Richmond chief admitted that from a selfish perspective, the club was disappointed by it.

“He’s a really, really good player,” Gale said of Rance, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in round one this year.

“This is a fiercely coemptive caper and you want the best players available on the park more often than not.

“We were all eagerly anticipating Alex’s return, he’s been training very, very well, and I thought he was going to make an immediate impact on our team and that’s not going to be the case.

“But I’m not surprised. These things have weighed heavily on him and most importantly, as I stand before you today, I’m extremely grateful and thankful that I had the opportunity to watch him play.

“It’s a life decision. It’s a decision he’s thought long and hard about and for Alex there’s always been other priorities other than just football.

“He’s a remarkable, talented, combative, assertive leader that is all in – he’s a 150 per cent-type player.

“I don’t think it’s about player enjoyment, I think he loves the club, he loves the players, he hasn’t fallen out of love with the game or his teammates, he’s been clear about that.

“The positive here, by the power of his example, he has set a very, very high standard and benchmark for others to follow. We’ve got some exciting young kids who have the opportunity to come up and take the bull by the horns.”

As good as Rance was on the field, Gale said his presence would be missed just as keenly off it.

“He’s a real leader and a connector,” Gale said.

“I mean, he’s mad. I don’t understand him, but he lifts the place. He’s one of those guys who creates energy. Things happen on the field, you see that, but they happen off the field as well and he’s going to leave big shoes to fill.

“He’s just got a range of alter egos. He’s schizophrenic. I don’t make light of that, but he just flips into different personalities and I don’t know where they come from or where he draws inspiration from, but he’s just stark raving mad.”

Gale and Cotchin said the club didn’t try to talk Rance out of his decision, but they did present a strong case to him as to why he should remain a Richmond player.

“There’s no compulsion to remove him off our list at this stage. The contract will be amended accordingly, he’ll stay on our list until the end of the year and then we’ll deal with it then,” Gale said.


Gale described the premiership defender, 2017 All-Australian captain and 2015 best-and-fairest as “one of the finest players to play at our club”.

Cotchin was philosophical about Rance’s retirement and while he would have preferred Rance to continue playing, the Richmond skipper was confident about his team’s ability to cover his absence as they already exhibited emphatically by storming to their second flag in three years this season without him.

“To me footy is just a game,” he said.

“I know that a lot of people see it as a business and spots on lists and so forth, but for me it’s all about the health of a person whether it be mentally, physically, [or] spiritually, you need to be at your best to give your best and that’s what we hope Rancey can find in the near future.”

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