Few of Joel Selwood's 2022 AFL premiership teammates were expecting him to launch the 45-metre banana kick for goal that was the cherry on top of their grand final victory over Sydney last year. Even now, nearly six months on from the memorable moment, Selwood and his former teammates have ascribed an almost 'spiritual' quality to that goal.
Selwood, who had kept secret from his teammates his decision to retire from the AFL after the grand final, opened up about what was going through his head when he sent the now famous shot through the big sticks as part of a Fox Footy documentary chronicling the 2023 grand final. It wasn a brilliant an emotional end for Selwood, considered by the Geelong faithful to be among the club's greatest ever players.
None of Selwood's teammates knew he'd decided to pull the pin on his 16-year AFL career prior to the grand final, but the skipper's reaction to his incredible goal all but meant the jig was up. It was clear to see at the time that it was a particularly emotional moment for the 34-year-old, before he announced his retirement to the AFL world a few days later.
Selwood collapsed with his face in his hands after his impressive and ambitious shot sailed through, with veteran teammate Patrick Dangerfield lifting him back to his feet in a memorable image from the AFL decider. In the documentary, Selwood admitted he got a bit lost in the moment with only minutes left to play in what was his fourth AFL grand final win, which made it clear to fans there was likely news to come regarding his future.
“I got lost in the last bit of playing the game...it was hard to hide," Selwood noted. “I had a quick chat to the coach (Chris Scott) on the phone, and told him how proud I was of him. To then go and probably kick the best goal of my career...I’m usually lobbing it over the top to the Tom Hawkins direction at some stage, but it wasn’t a time to play the percentages and I got lost in the moment.
“To be honest, I watch it and look over it and I wonder why I stay down and put my hand over my eyes, I’m not sure why. Paddy lifts me that I nearly hit Punt Road he’s that strong. I’m so grateful. Players that I’ve played with, players that have gone before me, just made the journey so special.”
— AFL Nation (@AFLNation) September 25, 2022
Selwood's family were pictured in tears when the goal sailed through, another indicator that his 16-year-career was in its final act. Teammate Zach Tuohy said even now, seeing the emotions of Selwood's family when watching a replay of the match tugs at the heartstrings.
“Watching it back and seeing (Selwood's wife) Brit and his parents in the crowd almost brings me to tears,” he said. “I’m not sure a player has ever moulded a club more - certainly not in the modern era - than Joel has done to Geelong. That’s the highlight of the game no doubt and he deserves it. Legend.”
Joel Selwood embracing new code challenge after AFL retirement
Geelong thumped the Sydney Swans in last season's decider, running out 81-point victors in what became a one-sided contest. Selwood has since taken a role with the Melbourne Storm in the NRL as a leadership coach.
“I’m really excited to be joining Storm. I’ve been watching them and been in envy of what the club has been able to achieve for a long time,” Selwood said. “When the opportunity come up, I saw it as a great chance to get involved in something a bit different in an environment that is so well run.
“I was impressed with the presentation Frank (Ponissi) and Craig (Bellamy) made and have already been welcomed at the club when I visited AAMI Park earlier this week. I can’t wait to meet the rest of the playing group and getting into the season.”
Selwood will be tasked with helping ensure the Storm's high standards are maintained after the departures of several high-profile players. Brandon Smith joined the Roosters, while Melbourne have also lost the likes of Felise Kaufusi, Jesse Bromwich and Kenny Bromwich - all heading north to join Wayne Bennett at the Dolphins.
Football general manager Frank Ponissi said Selwood, through his time with Geelong, offered a lot to the Storm.
"We knew our two clubs had a lot of similarities, not just in sustained success but the values we each hold, and Joel has been a constant driver of those values for a long time," Ponissi said. "His leadership qualities and values off the field are just as impressive and have been very well documented over the years which was also very important to us in speaking to Joel about this role."
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