Flanked by wife Brooke - his greatest supporter and pillar of strength - Trent Cotchin announced his sad decision to retire from the AFL at season's end on Thursday. The 33-year-old is battling calf soreness and will miss Sunday's clash with St Kilda, but is hoping to be available for the Tigers' final two games of the regular season against North Melbourne and Port Adelaide.
Richmond's entire playing list, and most of the club's staff, were present on Thursday at Punt Rd as Cotchin was joined by wife Brooke and their three children to confirm his retirement. Speaking before his 300th game back in June, Cotchin made the startling revelation that he "wouldn't still be here" without Brooke and her support.
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"Going through so many challenging times - whether it be from a football point of view or just a personal point of view - you do rely on those closest to you in those particularly close times," he said. "She's been there through thick and thin."
Speaking about Brooke and the kids he added: "They are my world. Everything we do is to hopefully give them the best opportunity to succeed in life. I'm grateful to have three wonderful kids but I'm also very lucky for the way they've accepted who I am and what I do for a living as well."
While he didn't mention his family in great detail on Thursday, it was clear to see the role they have played in his AFL career and life in general. "The premierships were really special times, but I don't think we actually get there without the really challenging times, as hard as they were at the time," Cotchin said. "They're effectively what have taught us the lessons that allowed us to take big steps."
Trent Cotchin hailed as 'towering figure' in Richmond history
After being drafted with the second pick in 2007, Cotchin said he found his "life purpose" in playing 305 games for Richmond - the fourth most appearances in club history. In 2017 he led the Tigers to their first premiership in 37 years, before adding two more in 2019 and 2020. The 2017 triumph came just a year after the club's disastrous 2016 campaign when coach Damien Hardwick faced extreme pressure to keep his job.
"The build up to 2017, truly being the underdog and no one expecting it, that was really special," Cotchin said. "To win in 2020, when the whole world was a crazy place (with COVID-19), that had a huge impact on me.
"But also to have the kids in the hub for 16 weeks ... they're memories that we'll cherish forever. I have found myself scrolling through a lot of those photos (from 2020) this year, knowing that this time would probably come."
Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale said on Thursday: "Trent has been a towering figure in the history of our club and his achievements and accolades are many, and they're there for everyone to see. What's a little harder to see and ascertain is the strength and impact of his leadership, on and off the field. He's transformed the way we develop leadership at this club."
Cotchin's retirement announcement might not be the last to come out of Richmond this year, with fellow veteran Jack Riewoldt also expected to hang up the boots. "Jack is his own human and I love him for that. He will do whatever is right for him," Cotchin said. "Either way, I'm just very lucky that I've spent a long time with someone that I love and have respected."
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