Fremantle big man Michael Apeness has announced his retirement at the age of just 23 following five injury-plagued years at the club.
Apeness notched just 12 games with the Dockers after being taken in the 2013 national draft, including five games this year.
He was plagued by knee injuries throughout his career, and his 2018 campaign was prematurely ended by a severe hamstring tear.
The 200cm forward or ruckman signed a one-year contract extension just before his hamstring injury, but was taken off the club’s primary list a few months later.
Fremantle had committed to re-selecting Apeness in the upcoming rookie draft, but those plans were scuttled by his decision to retire.
“Retiring is not a decision I’m taking lightly and I thank the Fremantle Football Club for their support in this process,” Apeness said.
“It’s been a long journey, considering all of the injuries I’ve had, and I thank my teammates, coaches and the Fremantle fans for their support throughout my career.”
As a result of Apeness’ retirement, Fremantle will look to bring in five new players through the AFL Draft period on Thursday and Friday, with four through the national draft and one through the rookie draft.
The club has also committed to taking Ethan Hughes and Ryan Nyhuis at the rookie draft.
“We were very sad when Michael came to us to tell about his intentions to retire, it was a really difficult decision for him but we respect that decision,” new football operations manager Peter Bell said.
“He clearly has had a lot of injuries to deal with over his five years at the football club. He’s been a wonderful servant for Fremantle who didn’t get a lot of luck.
“Michael decided that he wanted to retire and although that was very sad and we wish him all the best, it does mean it allows us to select another player in Friday’s rookie draft.”