Paddy McCartin and Nic Naitanui retire in devastating development for AFL fans

Paddy McCartin's news was sad but not unexpected, while the West Coast Eagles are set to farewell another club great.

Paddy McCartin and Nick Naitanui.
Paddy McCartin and Nick Naitanui have both called time on their AFL careers, prompting a wave of fan tributes. Pictures: Getty Images

Sydney Swans star Paddy McCartin has announced his retirement from the AFL, with fans left devastated after the 27-year-old's reveal. McCartin played his last game in round four, during which he suffered a concussion many feared could end his career.

Having not played since then, McCartin said on Monday that it was with the advice of specialists in mind that he was ending his AFL career after 63 games. Picked first overall St Kilda back in 2014, his career looked to have been over after in 2019 before he forged a memorable comebeack with Sydney via the VFL in 2022.

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In his 35 games for St Kilda he suffered eight concussions, opting to walk away in 2019 on medical advice along similar lines to what he has now received. He played at VFL level with Sydney before being selected as a rookie at the end of 2021, returning to the AFL with the Swans last season.

He played 24 games for the club last year, including the Grand Final when the Swans were beaten by Geelong, and formed a formidable defensive partnership with his youngest brother Tom. He said that it was 'disappointing' that his AFL career would end on such a note, but was incredibly thankful that he got the opportunity to come back to the league at all.

“I am obviously disappointed that I’m no longer able to continue to do what I love, but I have to be guided by the specialists and I know that this is the right decision for me,” McCartin said. “I want to thank the Sydney Swans for the faith shown in me and the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing AFL football.

"It has been a privilege to play for this great club and I will remember this time fondly. I want to especially thank Lucy, my family, teammates, coaches and medical staff for their wonderful support through this challenging period. I’m very grateful.”

McCartin's decision comes a fortnight after Hawthorn ruckman Max Lynch retired on similar medical advice following repeated concussions. The Swans star's decision came after an independent AFL medical concussion panel recommended the 27-year-old cease participation in contact sport.

Swans football boss Charlie Gardner also paid tribute to McCartin. He said the determination to return from the VFL had added much to their AFL ambitions.

“After joining the club’s VFL program in 2021, Paddy worked his way onto the senior list in 2022 where he quickly proved his talent, developing into an elite intercepting defender,” Gardiner said.

“He quickly embraced our club just as we embraced him, and he has been a highly valued teammate and much-loved player. Paddy can be very proud of what he has achieved, and we are grateful for the contribution he has made to the Bloods.

“Paddy will continue to have our full support, and we wish him well in his next chapter.”

AFL fans pay tribute as Nic Naitanui joins McCartin in retiring

West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui has announced his AFL retirement, saying he has exhausted every avenue to keep his career alive. Naitanui was contracted for 2024, but a season-ending achilles tendon injury that required surgery convinced him the time was right to bow out.

It ends his career at 213 AFL games, with the 33-year-old missing the club's 2018 premiership due to a serious knee injury.

Nic Naitanui.
Nic Naitanui wasn't able to make it back in 2023 after an Achilles injury derailed his plans to return for West Coast. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"I feel like I have exhausted every avenue to work my way through my injury, but my body is sending a strong message that it is time," Naitanui said in a statement. "You never want this day to come, but it always does and I'm content in the knowledge that I have given it everything.

"Being a power athlete who has relied on my ability to jump throughout my career, this injury was probably going to take that away from me. I am also looking at a lengthy rehabilitation from my latest surgery and there are no guarantees of making it back to AFL level even if everything goes to plan.

"I have given it a lot of thought in the last few weeks and this is the best decision for the club, myself and my family."

With AAP

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