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Veteran Swan defender calls time ahead of Mid-Season Rookie Draft

Rioli's dreamtime, million-dollar Docker, Demon drama Nat Edwards with the latest footy news

A DEBILITATING back injury has forced Sydney premiership player Heath Grundy to retire from the game, effective immediately.

Grundy has been battling a back issue since hurting himself during an intra-club hitout in February and while he managed to play the second game of the JLT Community Series and round one, he failed to play another match.

One of the Swans' toughest and most durable players during a 256-game career, Grundy took on and beat the game's best tall forwards, and he admitted on Wednesday that he'd hoped to get back to play some senior footy this season.

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But when his problem failed to respond to treatment and began affecting his life away from football, he knew what call he had to make.

A decision on whether he needs surgery to fix his ailing back will be made in the next couple of weeks.

"I couldn't do what I wanted to do at home and I think that was a bit of an indicator," he said.

 

"I was struggling to get in and out of the car and I couldn't get my son in and out of the cot.

"It gets to a tipping point where it starts dragging you down every day and that's where it got too."

Originally from Adelaide, Grundy joined the Swans as a rookie in 2004 and played a key role in the 2012 flag win over Hawthorn, and from 2009-2017 played 20+ games in every season.

He holds the record for the most games played by a Swans rookie and is seventh on the all-time games played list at the club.

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Grundy will now move his focus from his own recovery to his work mentoring the Swans' defenders, particularly emerging talls Aliir Aliir and Lewis Melican.

Grundy's retirement comes just ahead of the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft which will be held on Monday night, but coach John Longmire refused to comment on the club's intended approach out of respect for one of the Swans' greatest servants.

"One of the things you do when you look at your team is you want to get your back six in order," he said.

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"We've been fortunate that we've just been able to grab Heath's magnet and put it up on the board, and he's been doing the job on opposition key forwards for as long as I can remember.

"His athleticism was under-rated, and he had the ability to stop the opposition's best forwards and also be able to springboard our attacks.

"He was a bloke that just went out and did his job every week."