BIG DECISIONS are looming at clubs across the country. 

With the end of the season nearing for 10 clubs, and then the finals to come, calls on whether veterans play on in 2022 will be being made.

Some decisions will be made for clubs, with older players to pull the pin on their careers. Others will be tougher, with players and clubs not seeing eye-to-eye on what the future holds.

WHO'S CALLED IT QUITS 2021's retirements and delistings

This week looks at each club's players who are 30 or older (or those turning 30 before October this year) and whether they will be playing on next year or if they will be bidding farewell.    

Tom Lynch (30)
David Mackay (33)
Rory Sloane (31)
Taylor Walker (31)

The Crows have turned towards youth as they look to rebuild under Matthew Nicks. Captain Sloane is contracted for two more years and has had a strong season after missing a month of action with an eye injury early on. Walker has been rejuvenated after a couple of quiet years and earned a one-year extension - however, there could be another twist here in the aftermath of his racist slur scandal and the six-game ban that will continue into next season. The tough decisions will come on Mackay, who has played 15 years in Crows colours, and Lynch. Mackay has been shifted to a medical sub role in recent weeks, while Lynch has just returned from injury and can still offer value as a hit-up forward. – Michael Whiting

Tom Lynch and Matthew Knicks at Adelaide training on August 5, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Grant Birchall (33)
Daniel Rich (31)
Mitch Robinson (32)
Dayne Zorko (32)

The Lions are bang in premiership contention and have only a couple of players to consider in this category. Captain Zorko and longest-serving Lion Rich have both been rewarded for stellar seasons with contracts that keep them around next year. Birchall has been a regular and will put off talks until the end of the season to see how he feels about playing on. Robinson has again been solid on a wing and would seem to have another year in him. – Michael Whiting

Grant Birchall and Mitch Robinson during the loss to Hawthorn in round 20, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Eddie Betts (34)
Marc Murphy (34)
Ed Curnow (31)
Levi Casboult (31)
Liam Jones (30)

Carlton will need to make a call on Betts, who turns 35 in November. The livewire small forward had put together a strong run before a recent ankle injury, kicking 22 goals from his previous 11 games. That could be worthy of one more year on the rookie list. Murphy is limping towards 300 games and appears unlikely to continue beyond this season. Curnow remains a consistent presence and wants to go on, but Casboult has managed just one game in the last nine weeks. Whether he's kept as a depth option who can play a variety of roles will be an interesting watch. Jones is contracted for next season and remains in good form. – Riley Beveridge

Marc Murphy with his son Max after the win over Adelaide in round 15, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Scott Pendlebury (33)
Jeremy Howe (31)
Jordan Roughead (30)
Steele Sidebottom (30)
Mason Cox (30)

After farewelling four players over 30 last year, the Pies have already seen Chris Mayne and Levi Greenwood call time on their careers this season as the changing of the guard continues. Pendlebury remains as important as any Pies and is closing in on a new one-year deal for 2022 that will extend his career into a 17th season. But whether he continues as captain will be a hot talking point over summer. HoweRoughead and Sidebottom are all contracted for next year, however a decision will need to be made on whether Cox is part of their future plans. His career at the Pies appears on a knife's edge and the new coach is likely to have a major say on what's next. – Mitch Cleary

Scott Pendlebury looks on after getting injured in round 19, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Patrick Ambrose (29, turning 30 in September)
Cale Hooker (32)
Michael Hurley (31)
Andrew Phillips (30)
David Zaharakis (31)

The Bombers' youth has led the way under Ben Rutten in his first season as coach with only a handful of veterans on the list. Hurley is contracted for next year and is keen to get back to playing after the hip infection which has seen him miss all of 2021. Phillips could be kept on as ruck insurance and has been handy when he has played this season, but Ambrose has played one game in the past two seasons and has others ahead in the pack of versatile talls. The hardest calls will be on club servants Hooker and Zaharakis. Hooker wants to play on but Rutten recently said it was a "big decision" for the club and then last week dropped him after a run of quiet games while Zaharakis appears likely in his last season being omitted several times this year and his contract ending. – Callum Twomey 

Cale Hooker celebrates a goal during the round 17 clash between Essendon and Adelaide at Marvel Stadium on July 9, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Travis Colyer (29, turning 30 in August)
Nat Fyfe (29, turning 30 in September)
Stephen Hill (31)
David Mundy (36)
Michael Walters (30) 

The Dockers have drafted aggressively in recent seasons under Justin Longmuir and can afford to retain the majority of their veterans in 2022. Hill is out of contract and shapes as the only player in this group likely to call time on his career, having battled persistent soft tissue injuries that have restricted him to 15 games across the past three seasons and none in 2021. Mundy has signed a one-year extension after a brilliant first half of the season, with his mentoring of the club's young midfielders also highly valued. Fyfe clearly has more elite football in him, despite a season-ending shoulder injury, while Colyer is in talks to extend after finding his place and using his strengths well this season. Walters is contracted until the end of next season but has struggled to produce his best football in a new forward role, ending the year with a hamstring injury. – Nathan Schmook

Shaun Higgins (33)
Joel Selwood (33)
Tom Hawkins (33)
Isaac Smith (32)
Josh Jenkins (32)
Zach Tuohy (31)
Lachie Henderson (31)
Patrick Dangerfield (31)
Rhys Stanley (30)
Mark Blicavs (30)
Gary Rohan (30)
Mitch Duncan (30)

The Cats have comfortably the most players in this age bracket in the competition but 10 of them remain first-choice players. Dangerfield and Duncan are both contracted until 2024 when they will turn 34 and 33 respectively. Blicavs is signed to 2023, while Selwood, Hawkins, Higgins, Tuohy and Smith all have deals that expire in 2022. A call on Henderson will come at season's end but he remains a crucial part of the backline and should go on for at least one more season to bridge the gap between the next wave of young defenders. Stanley is currently Geelong's No.1 ruck and remains out of contract but has shown enough this year to warrant a one-year deal. Rohan will soon sign a contract extension, however expect this year to be Jenkins' last as his two-year deal at GMHBA Stadium expires. – Mitch Cleary 

Joel Selwood and Tom Hawkins after the win over St Kilda in round nine, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Jarrod Harbrow (33)
Zac Smith (31)
Rory Thompson (30)

With the youngest list in the competition it's little surprise the Suns don't have a lot to figure out in this category. Key defender Thompson is contracted for two more years and has almost recovered from his ruptured ACL, and should be available from the start of next season. Smith has played a handful of games this year in the absence of Jarrod Witts and could be used again as a back-up option, while Harbrow has spent the year in the VFL and would be likely to wind up his wonderful career. – Michael Whiting

Jarrod Harbrow in action for Gold Coast in the VFL against Aspley in round 15, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Phil Davis (30)
Matt de Boer (31)
Lachie Keeffe (31)
Shane Mumford (35)
Sam Reid (31)
Callan Ward (31)

The Giants’ inexperienced defence has held up surprisingly well when called on but Davis is still a useful addition when fit and his leadership is perhaps even more valuable. Expect the former captain to sign a new deal to play on next year. Ward has returned to the midfield and rediscovered his top form so will also continue. de Boer and Keeffe both signed contract extensions this year to play on in 2022, although de Boer has been sidelined for much of the season and Keeffe tore an ACL in round eight just days after putting pen to paper on his new deal. Coach Leon Cameron said recently that Mumford will retire at the end of this season though we’ve heard that before and the veteran ruckman remains an integral part of the Giants’ line up. Ongoing knee and back issues mean there won’t be another reawakening for Mummy this time. It’s a tougher call on Reid who continues to suffer from injuries and doesn’t have a fixed role but might be kept on as versatile insurance for another year. - Martin Pegan

The Giants get around Shane Mumford after a goal in round 19, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Luke Breust (30)
Keegan Brooksby (31)
Shaun Burgoyne (38)
Jonathon Ceglar (30)
Jack Gunston (29, turning 30 in October)
Ben McEvoy (32)
Liam Shiels (30)

The Hawks will have a number of tough decisions to make in the coming years under new coach Sam Mitchell. But the pain will be delayed somewhat, with the vast majority of the 30+ crew contracted until the end of next year. Burgoyne, the competition's oldest player, became the first Indigenous man to play 400 games this year, registering two of his 15 games in 2021 as medi-sub. He could conceivably go around again, but if the club is looking to the future, it might be time to hang up the boots. Rookie Brooksby is fourth in the club's ruck stocks, and given the rapid improvement of Ned Reeves, could be delisted if space is required – Sarah Black

Shaun Burgoyne is chaired off after his 400th game. Picture: AFL Photos

Nathan Jones (33)
Michael Hibberd (31)
Neville Jetta (31)
Mitch Brown (31 in August)
Majak Daw (30)
Jake Melksham (30 in August)

It could be the last season for Jones, who reached game No.300 in April but has started just one match on the field in the 14 games since. A similar situation looks likely for Jetta, with talented youngsters like Trent Rivers and Jake Bowey recently preferred in Melbourne's backline. Collingwood made an approach for his services last season and it will be intriguing to see if rival clubs will be thinking of doing similar later this year, given his experience and leadership. Hibberd is worth another season, having reclaimed his place in the back six for much of the year. Brown and Daw face uncertain futures on the club's rookie list. Melksham, who turns 30 later this month, is contracted for next season. – Riley Beveridge

Nathan Jones at Demons training, June 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Todd Goldstein (33)
Robbie Tarrant (32)
Aaron Hall (30)
Jack Ziebell (30)
Ben Cunnington (30)

North Melbourne still relies heavily on its veterans, so don't be surprised if all five of its over 30s remain on the club's list next season. Goldstein and Cunnington will almost certainly be there, given both are contracted for 2022. The former has previously attracted interest from clubs in the premiership hunt, notably Geelong, although that attention looks to have cooled recently. David Noble said earlier this year he was confident Tarrant will finish his career at Arden Street, while Hall and Ziebell are also working on extensions having each made successful transitions into the backline this season. – Riley Beveridge

Aaron Hall walks off the field after the Roos' loss to the Western Bulldogs in round 16, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Travis Boak (33)
Charlie Dixon (30)
Tyson Goldsack (34)
Robbie Gray (33)
Hamish Hartlett (30)
Tom Jonas (30)
Steven Motlop (30)
Tom Rockliff (31)

The Power have built a team in contention through a nice blend of youth and experience, with the continued excellence of Boak and Dixon key to their premiership chances. They are contracted through to 2022 and 2023 respectively. Gray makes his anticipated return from a knee injury in the round 21 Showdown and is expected to play on next season, regardless of whether he hits a contract trigger. Jonas enjoyed his best form during the first half of the season and is contracted for two more seasons, during which a captaincy handover to Ollie Wines at some stage would make sense. Hartlett, who has been in and out of the team because of injury and form, wants to stay in 2022 but will assess his options if a contract isn't forthcoming. Rockliff is also out of contract with his future unclear, having missed the majority of the season because of two knee injuries and then deep vein thrombosis complications. Motlop has played some excellent football this season and appears likely to extend. Goldsack is effectively a development coach holding a rookie list spot this year. – Nathan Schmook

Tom Rockliff at Port Adelaide training on July 15, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

David Astbury (30)
Trent Cotchin (31)
Shane Edwards (32)
Bachar Houli (33)
Dylan Grimes (30)
Dustin Martin (30)
Jack Riewoldt (32)

It's a highly decorated portion of Richmond's squad who have cracked the 30 barrier, with all playing integral roles in the club's three recent premierships. Edwards, Lambert, Riewoldt and Cotchin all have a year remaining on their contracts, while defenders Astbury and Houli are unrestricted free agents. Astbury is still in good touch, and with a lack of key defensive depth, is needed. Houli is beloved at the club for his work both on and off the field, but has played 12 games in an injury-hit year. He has struggled at times to use the ball as well as he has in years prior, and the Tigers have new-found cover in the half-back role in Daniel Rioli and Sydney Stack. – Sarah Black

Bachar Houli ahead of the round seven match between Richmond and the Western Bulldogs at the MCG on April 30, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Paddy Ryder (33)
Jarryn Geary (33)
James Frawley (32, turning 33 in September)
Shaun McKernan (30, turning 31 in September)
Dan Hannebery (30)

Ryder remains as important as any Saint and is expected to soon clinch a one-year deal that will see him start next year as a 34-year-old. Geary is in the final stages of ticking off a one-year deal for 2022 but a decision on whether he continues as co-captain or allows Jack Steele to go solo remains up in the air. Frawley has managed two AFL games this year after a range of injury setbacks and it's hard to see his one-year stay being extended given the Saints have opted for Darragh Joyce over him this weekend. McKernan was brought in on a 12-month contract as forward/ruck back-up and has been troubled with his own injuries so it will be a hard sell for a new deal. Hannebery has a contract for next year and will be chasing a faultless pre-season after a 2021 campaign decimated by calf setbacks. – Mitch Cleary

Dan Hannebery in action for Sandringham against Carlton in the VFL on July 31, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Lance Franklin (34)
Tom Hickey (30)
Josh Kennedy (33)
Dane Rampe (31)
Callum Sinclair (31)

The Swans have regenerated their list in recent years so have few veterans to make a call on. Franklin has a year to run on his famed nine-year deal and would surely play on anyway after overcoming two years of injury troubles to kick 41 goals in 15 matches. Kennedy signed a contract extension earlier this year to play on in 2022 and his form certainly warrants that, while his fellow co-captain Rampe has one year left on his deal and will continue to lead the defence. Hickey has been a revelation in his first season with the Swans and quickly surpassed Sinclair as first-choice ruck. Sinclair has only played four matches as young tall forwards have also been given opportunities ahead of him, and will either have to explore his options or accept a role as ruck insurance for Hickey especially with Sam Naismith again sidelined with an ACL injury. - Martin Pegan

Tom Hickey competes with Scott Lycett in the ruck during round 15, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Shannon Hurn (33)
Mark Hutchings (30)
Josh Kennedy (33)
Nic Naitanui (31)
Jack Redden (30)
Brad Sheppard (30)
Luke Shuey (31)
Nathan Vardy (30)

The Eagles have the second most players aged 30 or over in the AFL and will need to decide where they sit at the end of this season so they can make decisive calls on their veterans' futures. Champions Hurn and Kennedy each want to play on and have justified one-year deals with their performances this season, particularly if having another swing at a premiership is the path the Eagles take. Naitanui is contracted until the end of next season and is the form ruckman of the competition. Captain Shuey has endured a frustrating 18 months with soft tissue injuries that the Eagles will hope he can overcome next season in the last year of his current contract. Sheppard also has one year remaining and has played 18 games this season, albeit not at the All-Australian level he produced last year. Vardy and Hutchings face uncertain futures as younger players take priority on the list. The club has used one first-round pick in the NAB AFL Draft in the past four years, meaning regeneration needs to be a priority soon. – Nathan Schmook

West Coast's Josh Kennedy during the loss to Collingwood in round 20, 2021. Picture: Michael Willson, AFL Photos

Taylor Duryea (30)
Stefan Martin (34)
Easton Wood (31)

It is a young group pushing the Dogs to the top of the ladder, with the Bulldogs having only three players 30 or over on their list. Wood is contracted for next season and remains a first-choice defender when fit, while former Hawk Duryea is also set to soon ink a new one-year deal that will tie him to the club until the end of 2022 after a consistent campaign in the Dogs' back-half. Martin started his first season at the club well but has encountered injury issues and is battling a groin problem. He has a trigger clause in his contract for next year but regardless if he hits it should be retained for ruck support for Tim English. - Callum Twomey

Stef Martin at Western Bulldogs training on June 16, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos