Back injury forces premiership Swan into retirement
SYDNEY Swans premiership winner Heath Grundy has announced his immediate retirement from the AFL.
Grundy has been battling a chronic back injury that has allowed him to play only one match this season, and with no prospect of a return date the 32-year-old has decided to call time on his stellar career.
The lion-hearted defender may not go down as one of the Swans biggest ever stars, but he will be remembered as one if its most unsung heroes.
A key part of the club's 2012 grand final triumph over Hawthorn, Grundy finishes on 254 AFL matches.
The key defender informed teammates of his decision to retire on Wednesday afternoon at the SCG and was warmly embraced as one of the Bloods' most popular members.
"Heath has been an unbelievable servant of our club for a long time and there's no doubt he will be missed," coach John Longmire said.
"In terms of leadership, Heath set an example for all of us with his meticulous preparation, dedication and passion for his craft.
"Each week he'd line up on the opposition's most damaging and biggest forward - and he'd just get the job done.
"He's a premiership player and a champion of our club. We wish Heath, Elise, Reggie and Jameson all the best for the next phase of life."
Grundy's cool head under pressure and defensive skills have been sorely missed this season, but it seems his body has finally failed him.
There was thought he would retire at the end of last season, but he and the club decided to push on for one more year.
Grundy debuted in 2006 but didn't become a permanent member of the side until 2010, when he immediately grew in confidence and became a key part of the defensive line alongside Ted Richards.
Chairman Andrew Pridham said: "Heath has been an anchor of our defence over the past decade. His dedication and resilience saw him progress from the rookie list to being in the top 10 players for games played at the Sydney Swans.
"A premiership player and life member, Heath will be remembered for his on-field toughness. He is an immensely popular figure at the club and his strength of character and friendliness has benefited everyone he has dealt with over the past 15 years."
The Swans also have premiership veterans Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh coming to the end of their careers, with no word yet on whether this will be their final season.