Sydney Swan Smith announces AFL retirement

Sydney Swan Smith announces AFL retirement

A serious hamstring injury which required three rounds of surgery has forced highly-regarded Sydney defender Nick Smith into AFL retirement.

The 2014 All Australian tore the hamstring tendon off the bone in round 21 last year and has suffered numerous setbacks during an ultimately unsuccessful bid to return to action.

Smith played 211 games for the Swans and was a member of their 2012 premiership team.

The 31-year-old joined Sydney as a rookie in 2007 and made his senior debut the following year.

Swans coach John Longmire said Smith had always been completely selfless, both on and off the field.

“From the moment Nick arrived at the Sydney Swans, we knew we had a special person,” Longmire said in a statement.

“Nick was a master of the small defender role.

“For over a decade at selection we just placed Nick’s name up on the whiteboard next to some of the best small-to-medium forwards that have ever played our game: Steve Johnson, Eddie Betts, Toby Greene, Robbie Gray, Stephen Milne, Luke Breust, Mark LeCras are some that come to mind.

“And who could forget his battles on the biggest home-and-away and finals stages with his old ex-school mate Cyril Rioli.”

Smith, known around the club as ‘Smooch’, said the 2012 premiership, which saw him realise a “boyhood dream”, was the highlight of his career.

“I feel a connectedness to the guys who I won that with,” he told a press conference on Wednesday.

“And I’m looking forward to the reunions in 10, 20, 30 and 40 years’ time because it was something really special for that group.”

But Smith said he also looked back fondly on the heated match-ups that saw him take on some of the league’s best in what Longmire described as the “loneliest” place on the football ground – the defensive goal square.

“It wasn’t easy, but there’s that healthy respect and I enjoyed the competition against them,” he said.

A fortnight ago, Sydney champion Jarrad McVeigh announced this campaign would be his last as an AFL player while Smith’s fellow defensive stalwart Heath Grundy called time on his career earlier this year.

Another key member of the 2012 flag-winning outfit, midfielder Kieren Jack, could also hang up the boots at season’s end, which would leave Luke Parker and Sam Reid as the last two premiership Swans at the club.

Credit: AAP