RICHMOND is confident Alex Rance will see out his career with the club after signing a contract extension, despite the player's initial hesitation to remain in the game all together.
Following months of speculation, negotiations between Rance and the club accelerated this week, which ended with a four-year deal being finalised late on Friday afternoon.
The 2014 All Australian had been considering his future and whether he wanted to remain in the game beyond next season, with travel and other interests including his faith tempting him to walk away.
But after discussions with those close to him including his wife Georgia and manager Tom Petroro, he put the idea of early retirement and the lure of unrestricted free agency behind him and committed to the Tigers long-term.
On Saturday, Richmond denied the length of Rance's new contract was too long.
"He's a person of great integrity so he wouldn't commit for four years if that wasn't what he intended to fulfil as a minimum," football manager Dan Richardson told AFL.com.au.
"Once he'd reached the conclusion that he had, I think a longer term deal and the security of that was principally what he wanted to do.
"There wasn't really a discussion about anything else, in terms of [a potentially shorter] term."
Only Rance, coach Damien Hardwick and captain Trent Cotchin knew about the contract's completion leading into Friday night's clash with West Coast at the MCG.
Word began to filter out in the hours afterwards amongst the players, and the whole group was officially notified via text and email on Saturday morning.
"We ummed and ahhed about whether we tell the group prior to the game, and we probably should have in hindsight – it might have given us a bit of a lift," Hardwick told ABC Radio on Saturday after the 20-point loss to the Eagles.
"Although we were very confident, there always was that uncertainty hanging over us and for us to find out on the Thursday [it was happening] was very exciting."
The reasons why Rance had been taking his time to sign were picked apart in the media when his religious beliefs and desire to backpack around Europe next year were widely discussed.
But Richardson and Hardwick said Rance had been able to keep his head clear when it came to playing, despite the constant commentary.
"There was a lot of attention around it and what was and wasn't true in all of that … that's really a private matter," Richardson said.
"But I think he was pretty good at compartmentalising the decisions and the thought processes he was having around this decision.
"Clearly whatever his thought process was at different stages, the main thing for us to focus on is it's ended up in the result we wanted with him understanding and realising footy is a really important part of his life."
Earlier this year, Rance was linked to Fremantle and the Brisbane Lions as rival clubs looked to bolster their defensive stocks.
But the Tigers always felt if he was going to play on next season and beyond, it would be in the yellow and black.
Cotchin said Rance's long-term commitment reflected the unity within the club and the players' confidence in where it was going.
"It shows a real belief in where we're heading and as big news as it is, I think it was sort of expected and it was just a matter of time," Cotchin told SEN.
"The thing we set out to do from the start was just to support him in whatever decision he needed to make, whether that was football wise.
"He just needed time and we're really happy and pleased with the four years."
Rance played his 118th game on Friday night against West Coast and has been in good form this season, with an average of 16 disposals and five marks.