Fairytale finish unlikely, but Lions star Daniel Rich can still go out a winner

Daniel Rich doesn’t regret taking one for a Brisbane Lions team he says has never been better placed to win an AFL flag since he arrived 15 years ago.

Sep 05, 2023, updated Sep 05, 2023
Daniel Rich of the Lions is seen during a Brisbane Lions training session at Brighton Homes Arena in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Daniel Rich of the Lions is seen during a Brisbane Lions training session at Brighton Homes Arena in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Darren England)


The Brisbane mainstay won’t play on next season, Rich hopeful of seeing some time in the VFL side’s semi-final against Williamstown on Sunday after overcoming a hamstring injury.

It was that setback in a 15th AFL season at the same club that finally prompted the 33-year-old to call time on his playing days.

Rich began the year in the AFL side, playing seven of the first 13 rounds before he and fellow veteran Jack Gunston were placed in a training block after a loss to Hawthorn.

The move was described as a mutual decision with coach Chris Fagan, Rich adamant it was the right one even if it effectively ended his AFL playing days.

Rich could still sneak back into the Lions’ top side if injuries strike but if that doesn’t happen he won’t “let the last six months define” him.

“It was definitely the right decision; at the end of that four-week block I felt great,” the 275-game veteran told media on Tuesday, a day after breaking news of his retirement to teammates.

“It’s easy to say ‘what if’, but that’s life. We all have those moments and I’m pretty content where things are at.

“I know I’ve got to be out there training regularly and couldn’t do that.

“It all just adds up; sometimes you have to make those hard decisions that are best for yourself and the team.”

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Dashing defenders Darcy Wilmot, Keidean Coleman and Conor McKenna have flourished in Rich’s absence, the veteran admitting that area of the ground was now a clear strength of the side.

“It was a matter of time that I’d hand over the baton; not the way I would have liked it to happen but that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes,” he said.

The West Australian has endured the highs and lows since arriving at the Gabba as an exciting midfielder in 2009 and thinks their fifth successive finals appearance represents their best shot yet at a title.

“I definitely think so; it’s a pretty talented team and we’ve learnt alot over the last four years with those finals experiences,” he said.

Co-captain Lachie Neale said Rich was “too humble for his own good”.

“An absolute legend; he’s sort of the glue, a superstar behind closed doors,” Neale said.

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