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Harry Thring  July 1, 2014 1:33 PM

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I'm not going to be slowing down…I'm really going to be finishing off the year strong
RANKED as one of the AFL's best three defenders of the past decade by Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson, Ben Rutten has announced he will retire at season's end.

This is Rutten's 12th year at the elite level after being selected by the Crows as a rookie in 2002.

Sanderson rated the man known at West Lakes simply as "Truck" with former greats Matthew Scarlett and Darren Glass as the best defenders of the past 10 years.

Rutten flagged a move into coaching next year and Sanderson said he had the skillset to one day become a senior coach.

Sanderson also insisted the 31-year-old would this year add to his 225 games as the side mounts a late charge towards finals football.

Rutten knew during the pre-season that 2014 would be his last as a player, but said he was keen to finish his playing days on a high by making the final eight.

"It wasn't a tough decision…throughout pre-season I was sort of going into it preparing and treating every session and moment like it was going to be the last year," Rutten said.

"I'm pretty comfortable with the decision.

"I'm not going to be slowing down…I'm really going to be finishing off the year strong.

"I think we can really push for the finals and do some damage once we get there."

Acknowledging the development of the likes of Daniel Talia, Luke Brown, Rory Laird, Brodie Smith and Kyle Hartigan, Rutten said he was content with how Adelaide's defence was poised to cope without him.

He has acted as a mentor to many of the club's young backmen, with Sanderson claiming he had been like an extra assistant coach during his tenure.

An emotional Rutten said he hoped he had taught the next crop of defenders about the importance of reliability.

"I think our young defenders at the moment are really good, enthusiastic and they're going to be the nucleus for our team for the next 10 years," he said.

"I feel as if I've had an impact on their careers and I'm definitely going to be following them and watching their progression.

"I hope I teach them about being consistent, about being reliable, about being counted upon by your teammates – they're the sort of values I've played with throughout my career.

"Hopefully I'm remembered for those sort of things."

Rutten started his career as a forward and booted three goals from his first three kicks.

But he said he has never forgotten the first game he played at full back, manning Melbourne legend David Neitz while playing under former Crows coach Neil Craig.

"It was my third or fourth game at the club, it was 'Cragiy's' first game when he took over and I walked in the door and he said 'how do you feel about playing on David Neitz?'" he said.

"I wasn't expecting it at all and he had two goals by quarter time. I was waiting for the runner to come out and slip me over to the bench."