Rance has been retained on the playing list for this year, meaning he can theoretically return at any time during the upcoming season. But if he chooses to return later, obviously the Tigers would be well placed to pay him at a lower rate than the hefty contract that he walked away from in December.
Rance has not given any indication that he is considering a return, having cited faith (he is a Jehovah’s Witness) and family as the drivers of his decision to step away from football, in the face of inevitable speculation about his reasons for quitting. The champion also recently endured a marriage separation.
The fact that Rance stepped away from the game in December – long after the trade period and draft – meant the Tigers did not have the opportunity to bring any seasoned players to the club, though it is unclear whether they would have pursued recruits from other clubs given the strong state of their playing list.
Brandon Ellis, who crossed to Gold Coast on a five-year deal as a free agent, was unlikely to have been retained by the Tigers, regardless of whether there were extra funds available via Rance’s retirement (Ellis crossed to the Suns in October).
Richmond will not be recruiting a young player who can bolster their list in pre-season, as spectacular flanker Sydney Stack did last year, since their list is full and they will not delist Rance. The Tigers also used a vacancy to land the storied Marlion Pickett in the mid-season draft.
Richmond’s senior football consultant Neil Balme said last week that the chances of a Rance return were increasingly less likely. “In the back of our minds, we are still hoping that he might think about coming back but that’s getting less likely I think,” Balme told SEN.
“I did think that [he would return] but it was probably more optimism than any evidence.