Rory Sloane's AFL future thrown into doubt in brutal development for Crows champion

The former Adelaide captain has suffered a worrying setback ahead of the 2024 season.

Rory Sloane, pictured here with his family.
Rory Sloane with his family ahead of his 250th AFL game in 2023. Image: Getty

The AFL future of Rory Sloane has once again been thrown into doubt, after the former Adelaide Crows captain was forced to undergo surgery on a detached retina in his right eye. The Crows revealed on Wednesday that Sloane went under the knife on Tuesday night - a similar procedure he underwent in 2021.

The 33-year-old reported soreness in his right eye after a training session. "The surgery has been a success and Rory is now in recovery," Adelaide's high-performance manager Darren Burgess said in a statement.

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"As is typical with Sloaney, he is very positive and given he has been through this before, he understands what the process will look like from here. He will spend the next five days recovering at home. Given the nature of the injury we will be guided by the specialists and his recovery before deciding on a return date for training."

Sloane opened up about how the first eye injury affected him in 2021. "A detached retina is pretty serious," he said at the time. "That is something I learnt pretty quickly - without getting the proper procedure and doing the recovery right, there could have been some real long-term effects. That was the driving force for me - forget footy, your vision is for life."

Sloane suffered another scare in August last year when he was subbed out of a game with an eye complaint, but on that occasion he was cleared of any damage to the retina. In 2017 the former Crows captain also suffered a fractured eye socket.

Rory Sloane, pictured here in action for the Adelaide Crows in 2023.
Rory Sloane in action for the Adelaide Crows in 2023. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images) (AFL Photos via Getty Images)

AFL fans rally around Rory Sloane after latest eye injury

The 33-year-old announced last year that he'd signed a one-year contract extension for the 2024 season, bucking a trend of veteran players calling it quits in 2023. His latest eye injury will spark plenty of questions around if and how much he will play in 2024 - in what will likely be the final year of his storied career.

The former captain played every game in 2023 after a successful return from a knee reconstruction the year before. He said he was excited by the progress the Crows made in 2023, and looking forward to seeing how they could progress in 2024.

"I love where this club is heading, both on and off the field," Sloane said in a statement last August. "I'm excited by the growth we have seen this year. While we obviously train and play in an elite environment, I have often spoken about there being a local footy club feel about the place and it's what I love. There are lots of genuine people looking out for each other."

Sloane has played 255 games across a 15-year AFL career - all with the Crows. A two-time club best and fairest winner, he stepped down from the captaincy in 2022. Teammates and fans sent their well-wishes to Sloane on Wednesday afternoon.

with AAP

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