WEST Coast premiership player Daniel Venables has been forced into premature retirement after an AFL medical panel unanimously recommended that he avoid contact sport, including Australian football.
The 22-year-old, who was the youngest member of the 2018 premiership team, has not played since suffering a brain trauma injury in a marking contest in round nine, 2019 against Melbourne at Optus Stadium.
He has continued to work towards resuming his career which was halted at just 21 games as a result of that incident more than two years ago.
Venables, who continues his daily battle with symptoms, addressed the playing group on Wednesday morning.
“It’s hard talking to all of your mates,” he said, moments after addressing a team meeting. “When I was practising I was alright, but when you get there it’s different.
“I’m sad, but I guess I’m relieved because the pressure’s off and now I can focus on my rehab. I’m not able to play again, so I can just concentrate on my health.
WHO'S CALLED IT QUITS 2021's retirements and delistings
“It’s not until you sit back and reflect on the time that you understand how far you’ve come and the things you have had to go through. I feel like this has matured me as a person and it will help me in the future.
“It has been two-and-a-half years, I am a very realistic person and I understood it was going to be tough to get clearance to play.
“I am grateful for the opportunity I got to play in a Grand Final. It’s pretty hard to come by and I will always have that to hang my hat on. It will always connect me to the club.”
Eagles general manager of football Craig Vozzo said it was a sad day for the club.
“It is terribly sad news for Daniel and the football club, but it is not a surprising outcome,” he said.
“He tried everything to recover and play again, but ultimately that will not be possible.
“Despite the ongoing battles, Daniel has remained upbeat and has been an important part of the squad and the club.
“Last year, when we were in the Queensland hub, he offered support in an off-field capacity. He has been a great club man and very popular teammate and while it is tragic that we will not see a wonderfully talented player impact the game as he could have, this decision is made in Daniel’s best interests and with our full support.
“He understands and accepts the situation and I am sure that in some ways, Daniel is quite relieved to receive the medical recommendation. The club will continue to support him as he plans the next phase of his life.”