GREATER Western Sydney ruckman Shane Mumford has announced his retirement.
The Giants enforcer fronted the media with senior coach Leon Cameron in Sydney on Friday and confirmed that his battered body had forced him to call a premature end to his career.
He was expected to play on next year and had one season to run on his contract, but bows out after a 10 seasons in the League with Geelong, Sydney and GWS.
Mumford has battled ankle and knee issues for the past three seasons and his latest injury, he said a navicular fracture in his left foot suffered in the Giants' loss to Adelaide in this year's qualifying final, made playing on almost impossible.
"I think I've injured just about every part of my body throughout my career but the foot was the turning point," he said.
"I've had problems with my knees for many years and had the ankle reconstructed, now to injure the foot as well, I want to be able to run around with my kid in years to come.
"If I continued playing there was potential to do more damage and for me it's not worth the risk, I want to have a life after football as well.
"For me to play on and not be 100 per cent would be selfish, so I'd much rather finish up while I was still playing some good football."
The 31-year-old struggled to train for most of the 2017 season but still managed to be a key member of Cameron's team, and for the third time in his four years at GWS, won the Defensive Standards award at the best and fairest (after averaging 5.6 tackles in his 21 games).
Mumford arrived at the Cats from Bunyip in country Victoria via the 2007 NAB AFL rookie draft and was known for his love of a sausage sizzle. He leaves the League as one of the most intimidating big men the game has ever seen.
After a quiet first year in the AFL, he played 18 games in Geelong's flag-winning 2009 season, but was dropped on the eve of the finals and left the club in search of more opportunities at the Swans.
The aggressive big man thrived under John Longmire and helped the club to an upset win over Hawthorn in the 2012 Grand Final, but 12 months later again found himself switching clubs when the shock arrival of superstar forward Lance Franklin forced him out.
Mumford starred in his debut season at the Giants, winning the Kevin Sheedy Medal as club champion, but suffered a serious ankle injury the following year. His left ankle has given him trouble ever since.
At his best Mumford was a regular in All Australian conversations and was widely regarded as the Giants' most important player, with his fierce tackling around stoppages and fearless attack on opposition players.
Shane Mumford celebrates the 2012 flag with the Swans. Picture: AFL Photos
One of the AFL's true characters, Mumford said he leaves the game satisfied with what he's achieved.
"It’s a bit of a sad day for me but I’m grateful I was able to play at the highest level for 10 years," he said.
"Who would have thought the fat kid from Bunyip would have been able to last this long?”
His departure not only robs the Giants of one of their biggest names, but a popular player and highly respected clubman. However he won't be totally lost to the Giants, with Mumford appointed as a specialist ruck coach, where he'll help Rory Lobb, Dawson Simpson and youngster Matt Flynn try and fill his shoes.
GWS coach Leon Cameron said Mumford's effect on the club has been immense.
"He’s played for over 10 years, he’s a premiership player, he’s a best and fairest winner, but his true legacy is his competitiveness," he said.
"He hits the ball hard and he hits the opposition hard, and we’ve seen that all throughout his career.
"Whenever I challenged him on the field if things weren’t going as well he’d like, he'd always respond and let his actions do the talking.
"I think that’s why he’s so well respected amongst the AFL fraternity."