Trent Cotchin admits his body isn't what it once was as he announced his retirement from the AFL at the end of the 2023 season, continuing the end of an era for Richmond following the earlier departure of triple-premiership coach Damien Hardwick. A wave of tributes came for the 2012 Brownlow Medal winner after it was revealed he would be walking away at the end of the season, with Cotchin at times fighting back emotions in a press conference discussing his retirement on Thursday afternoon.
With 305 games under his belt, Cotchin is facing a race against time to add more having ruled himself out of this weekend's match against St Kilda as he continues to deal with a nagging calf injury. His retirement announcement coincided with that of Geelong and Hawthorn champion Isaac Smith.
Cotchin will no doubt go down as one of Richmond's greatest players, having been a key factor in premiership triumphs in 2017, 2019 and 2020. Alongside Hardwick, key forward Jack Riewoldt and powerhouse midfielder Dustin Martin, Cotchin helped resurrect the Tigers from a middling club to an AFL powerhouse in the late 2010s.
The three-time club best and fairest holds the record for the most games played as captain of Richmond with 188, having first taken on the role as a 22-year-old back in 2012. He is the first Tigers captain to lead the club to three premierships, and said his time at the club had taught him a wealth of valuable life lessons.
“I accept reality and that my chapter has come to an end. My body is somewhat slowing down and is older than it once was,” said Cotchin.
“I found my life purpose at Richmond. I look to the future with nothing but excitement, adventure, and opportunity, because of what I found here at Richmond and what Richmond people taught me.
“Finding out that creating an environment to help other realise and fulfil their potential not only inspired me but helped me to overcome my own fears. I found the move from ‘I’ to ‘we’ and that to be interested not interesting was so much more fun.
"I am going to miss with all my heart the relationships, memories and experiences I have had these past 305 games." 💛
📹 Watch as @tcotchin9 announces his retirement to the playing group.
— Richmond FC 🐯 (@Richmond_FC) August 10, 2023
"I learned the power to dream big at Richmond, to say why not me. Why not us? And why not now.
“I have always given my best and left no stone unturned, in my dad's words. I have strived to make every post a winner.”
Richmond CEO praises Trent Cotchin's 'instrumental' approach to success
Richmond CEO Brendon Gale hailed Cotchin's legacy at the Tigers, saying his football resume would speak for itself but adding that it was his behind-the-scenes work in transforming the club that would be remembered long after he leaves the game behind.
“Obviously, Trent has achieved so much as a player. However, it is the power and impact of his leadership that has impressed me the most,” Gale said.
“After being appointed captain in 2012 at 22 years, Trent in his own way and through his own experience redefined leadership at our club. His renewed focus on self-understanding, self-acceptance, care, and connection was instrumental in unlocking the full potential of our players and team.
“Amongst all the madness and mayhem, in the heat of battle, with the stakes at their highest, Trent so often recognised the moments that mattered and remained completely connected with his performance. Through the power of his leadership he so often tipped the scales our way, and we will thank him for that forever.”
Cotchin was selected by Richmond with the second pick in the 2007 AFL draft, soon establishing himself as a powerful midfielder not afraid to get his hands dirty. At times he was a source of frustration for rival fans, but his longevity and consistent impact cannot be denied.
Hardwick returned from his European jaunt to see Cotchin's 300th game, a memorable 20-point victory over St Kilda in which Cotchin played an unlikely goalkicking role. He booted two crucial goals as he wound back the clock with a powerhouse 29-disposal effort to go along with five tackles.
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