'Don’t completely understand': Jack Riewoldt breaks silence on Alex Rance

Richmond's Jack Riewoldt has described the loss of champion teammate Alex Rance as a "void that no person can fill".

Rance shocked the AFL community when he announced his retirement from the sport before Christmas.

The five-time All-Australian informed his teammates of the surprise move, signalling an end to his glittering 200-game career.

"I am someone who will always give their best to what they commit to and I'm proud of the time, energy and dedication that I've put towards my football career," Rance said in a club statement.

"Right now, I feel I have served my purpose in terms of my on-field performance and cultural impact and I'm so grateful to the football club for their support and care in allowing me to do that in my own unique way.

Alex Rance's retirement shocked the AFL community. Pic: Getty

"Now I feel is the right time for me to put the same time and energy into other areas of my life that need it and to prioritise the more important things to me, such as my spiritual growth, my family and friends."

Tributes from Rance's teammates have been surprisingly quiet since his announcement towards the end of last year.

However, Riewoldt took the opportunity on New Year's Day to share some touching photos of the two teammates together, accompanied by a heartfelt message.

“2019 was certainly one of the busiest years in my life,” Riewoldt wrote. “A new addition to our family, an injury riddled year that ultimately finished in success, but the most surprising has been the retirement of one of my best friends.

“I still actually haven’t figured out what it’s going to be like not having you around the club. A void that no person can fill, on and off the field.

“I’m not overly religious, so it’s something that I don’t completely understand on the level that you do. But if it’s important to you, it’s important to me.

Riewoldt has described Rance's exit as massive void for Richmond. Pic: Getty

“I’m proud of you for staying true to yourself. We will miss you, Tigerland will miss you, I will miss you.”

Rance one of Richmond’s ‘greatest players’

Rance was a key player in the Tigers' breakthrough premiership in 2017, but missed this year's grand final romp over GWS after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament in round one.

The 30-year-old had been on track to return to senior action in round one, before making the call to retire.

Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale said his impact on the club would not be forgotten anytime soon.

"He leaves this club a highly-decorated premiership player and it has been a privilege for all us to watch him play," Gale said.

"He is clearly one of the greatest players to have pulled on the Richmond jumper.

"Alex has been the ultimate competitor, an incredible character of the club, and a fine example of a Richmond man.

"Although he's stepping away from playing football, he'll always be part of Richmond and we wish him and his family all the best for the future.".

With AAP