AFL fans have taken to social media in droves after Adelaide Crows veteran Rory Sloane confirmed he would play on in 2024. The 254-gamer put to bed any retirement suggestions after confirming in a statement on Tuesday that he'd signed a one-year contract extension to remain at the Crows.
Sloane's future in the AFL had been a topic of hot discussion and there was a sense the 33-year-old was going to join the growing list of veteran superstars to announce their retirement from the sport in recent days. On Tuesday alone, Richmond great Jack Riewoldt became the latest Tigers icon to call time on his career, following premiership captain Trent Cotchin's own announcement one week prior.
However, Adelaide's former captain Sloane - who has played every game this season after a successful return from a knee reconstruction in 2022 - said he was excited by the progress the Crows have made in 2023. Sloane admits he's buoyed by the camaraderie at the club and keen to see where it can take them into next season.
"I love where this club is heading, both on and off the field," Sloane said in a statement on Tuesday. "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."
AFL world responds to Rory Sloane news
Adelaide's list manager Justin Reid added: "Rory is as competitive and determined as any player in the league and he is everything you want in a leader." Fans flooded social media on Tuesday in response to the Sloane announcement as the Adelaide veteran bucked the growing retirement trend in the AFL.
Rory Sloane has signed a one year contract extension to keep him at the club until the end of 2024!
Our heart and soul is sticking around for a little bit longer!!
Thoughts, Crom fans? pic.twitter.com/UoKKhkO5Ml
— The Crowject Podcast (@Crowject) August 15, 2023
So many big name retirements in the AFL in recent weeks…meanwhile Rory Sloane channeling the Wolf of Wall Street….. pic.twitter.com/yTolI6V86w
— Adam Papalia (@adampaps) August 15, 2023
Adelaide has confirmed Rory Sloane will play on after signing a new 1-year deal.
Having a former captain around the club to guide the next generation can only help with development.
Crows aren’t under pressure to make list changes so no harm in keeping Rory on. https://t.co/BrUrOqzKGg
— Theo Doropoulos (@TheoDrop) August 15, 2023
Congrats Rory so happy he gets to go around again & his leadership will help the young team continue to grow 💙❤️💛
— Nic (@NicBakes) August 15, 2023
Several AFL greats call time on their careers
The Sloane news was a welcome change in a period of great upheaval in the AFL. Earlier on Tuesday, Richmond legend Riewoldt informed teammates this would be his final season, giving Tigers fans one last opportunity to salute he and Cotchin in Melbourne this weekend before their season ends a week later when they travel to play Port Adelaide. The Tigers' loss to St Kilda last weekend effectively ended their chances of making the finals in 2023.
The three-time Coleman Medal winner was fundamental to the Tigers' premiership aspirations under Damien Hardwick, who himself walked away from the club earlier this year. He was Richmond's leading goalkicker no less than 11 times. "It's probably been bubbling away for most of the year myself," Riewoldt said of his retirement decision.
"Myself and Trent had a conversation at the start of the year about really enjoying every moment this year. It's probably a little bit of an end of an era. It only seems like yesterday I was sitting on the porch of his (Cotchin's) parents holiday house in Moama (in regional NSW) having a couple of VBs with his old man and just having the time of our lives at 19 years of age."
On Monday, the AFL world paid tribute to two more stars set to depart after season 2023, with West Coast's Nic Naitanui and Sydney Swans star Paddy McCartin both calling time on their careers. A spate of concussions forced McCartin to pull the plug on his career on the advice of specialists, while a a season-ending achilles injury that required surgery convinced Naitanui the time was right to bow out.
Last week, Geelong veteran and 2022 Norm Smith Medallist Isaac Smith also made his retirement announcement on the same day Richmond's Cotchin revealed that 2023 would be his AFL swan song. Smith won three premierships with Hawthorn as well as one with the Cats in last year's decider against Sydney.
Smith's former Hawthorn teammate and Swans legend Buddy Franklin is another superstar whose decorated career has come to an end in 2023. The 36-year-old called an immediate end to his 354-game career after a devastating calf injury against Essendon, with his wife Jesinta revealing the "emotional" toll of his decision was behind Franklin's absence at his own retirement announcement.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.