Griffiths exits AFL in surprise code switch

Richmond forward Ben Griffiths has retired from the AFL to complete a shock code switch with a college football team in the United States.

The 26-year-old played just two senior games in 2017 as concussion and shoulder injuries kept him out of the team or in the VFL.

He will become a punter for the University of Southern California, joining the college on a four-year scholarship.

"This was a difficult decision to make, but ultimately the opportunity was too good to refuse," he said in a statement, having informed the Tigers on Thursday morning.

"It certainly wasn't something I had been contemplating and only arose two weeks ago.

“It was tough telling my teammates and coaches this morning but they understand and support my decision.

Ben Griffiths. Pic: Getty

"I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to play AFL football and it was an honour to represent the Richmond Football Club.”

The Tigers will now be a player short for the 2018 season, with AFL list rules barring the reigning premiers from replacing Griffiths.

Griffiths joins former teammate Ben Lennon in seeking a career in the American sport.

Lennon, 22, was delisted by the TIgers and rejected interest from other AFL clubs to begin his attempt to become an NFL punter.