AFL News: Shock as ‘devastated’ Dees flag hero ‘medically retired’, ‘Northball’ to drive Roos’ push up ladder

Melbourne premiership hero Angus Brayshaw has announced his retirement, effective immediately.

According to, the star defender, who has endured a history of concussions throughout his career, including a controversial incident with Collingwood’s Brayden Maynard in what proved to be his final AFL match in the 2023 qualifying final, told his teammates of his decision to hang up the boots on Thursday morning.

A series of head knocks earlier in his career had seen him become one of the few players in the AFL to wear a helmet.

The announcement comes despite being contracted through to the end of 2028 after signing a whopping six-year contract just two years ago, the 28-year old, who was one of the Dees’ best in their drought-breaking 2021 grand final win.

A statement released by the Demons stated Brayshaw had been ‘medically retired’ after ‘extensive neurological testing and expert consultation’.

“The decision follows extensive neurological testing and expert consultation, which concluded that the 28-year-old should be medically retired as a result of the concussion he sustained in the 2023 AFL Qualifying Final against Collingwood,” the statement reads.

Patrick Dangerfield: “In my view, there is nothing in this.”
Matthew Richardson: “What else can he do?”

Angus Brayshaw has been stretchered off the ground after a big collision with Brayden Maynard.#AFLPiesDees

— 7AFL (@7AFL) September 7, 2023

Maynard was initially handed a two-week suspension by Match Review Officer Michael Christian for the collision, after an attempted smother of a Brayshaw kick saw the Magpies defender collect the Demon with a shoulder to the head.

However, he was cleared by the AFL Tribunal after an acrimonious few days, with the Dees making their displeasure over the ruling clear.

Brayshaw said he was ‘devastated’ by the decision.

“I am devastated that I can no longer play the game that I love, but I respect the verdict of the medical professionals, and the importance of putting my health before my career,” he said.

“I am really proud of what I have achieved over the past decade. I have been able to live out my childhood dream and while it’s been cut short, I am forever grateful to everyone who has been involved.

“I want to especially thank my teammates, my coaches and the staff at the Melbourne Football Club, for all they have done for me over the years. I also want to thank my family and my partner Danielle for their endless support. To every member and fan, thank you for your incredible support over the journey.

“Concussion is a massive issue facing our game. I hope from this, a terrible result for me personally, can come some positive outcomes for the future of player safety.”

Brayshaw played 167 games for the Demons after being taken with pick 3 in the 2014 AFL draft.

He finished third in the 2018 Brownlow Medal after an outstanding season as a courageous on-baller, before selflessly switching to a wing and later half-back as the Dees surged to the 2021 premiership, and remained crucial to their top-four finishes in 2022 and 2023.

(Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

Roos confident ‘Northball’ will see rise up the ladder

You’ve heard of Angeball and Bazball – and now there’s ‘Northball’, too.

That’s the term already given by North Melbourne young gun George Wardlaw to the Kangaroos’ high-octane, handball-happy style that secured an upset 34-point win over an admittedly under-strength Collingwood in their pre-season trial match at the AIA Vitality Centre.

While the Magpies were without nine premiership players including veterans Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom, and had multiple stars including both Daicos brothers and Jordan De Goey on managed minutes, the performance of the young Roos was nonetheless encouraging for long-suffering supporters after just 12 wins in four consecutive bottom-two finishes since the end of 2019.

With 42 disposals across half-back, reigning Rising Star winning Harry Sheezel was a dominant force, as was second-year inside bull George Wardlaw; while last year’s No.2 draft pick Colby McKercher had 25 in a similar role and impressed with his elite kicking.

Five goals for Nick Larkey!

How many will he kick in 2024?

????: @kayosports @FOXSportsAUS

— AFL (@AFL) February 21, 2024

New recruit Zac Fisher also proved central to the new game plan with his speed from half-back, finishing with 18 disposals before sitting out the second half.

Speaking to media after the match, Wardlaw confirmed the high-speed style will become a characteristic of the Roos in their second season under master coach Alastair Clarkson.

“We’re really confident with ‘Northball’. Our offence was really strong,” he said.

“We used our hands, we challenged them, we use the corridor strongly… that was really impressive.

“We’re liking the speed on the ball and as you saw out there (against Collingwood) it has been good for us so far.”

The Kangaroos’ next match is against St Kilda on March 3 in the final game of the AFL Community Series, before putting ‘Northball’ to their first proper test in Round 1 against GWS.

George Wardlaw. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Eagles already dazzled by No.1 pick’s ‘strength and power’

West Coast defender Tom Cole has sung the praises of Harley Reid, saying the No.1 draft pick is already so strong he can basically shrug off anyone’s tackle.

Reid is set to be the star attraction in Saturday’s practice match against Fremantle at Mineral Resources Park.

The 18-year-old has already wowed teammates with his work on the track, especially his fend-offs that have led to comparisons to Richmond great Dustin Martin.

“He’s very strong around the contest. For an 18-year-old kid, you don’t see it often,” Cole told reporters on Wednesday.

“It usually takes a few years to build up (that) strength in the weights room, and he’s got that power that not many others have.

“He’s been able to shrug off just about anyone on our list at the moment.

“He’s good in traffic. Good around the contest. When he gets the ball he doesn’t rush himself.

“He knows he’s got the strength and power to get out of tackles, so he can see other things around him.”

Reid is being tipped to play across half back and in the midfield this season.

Harley Reid shrugging off Reuben Ginbey like it’s nothing ????

— Jasper Chellappah (@Jasperc53) February 17, 2024

The Victorian represents generation next at West Coast, alongside the likes of Reuben Ginbey, Noah Long, Brady Hough, Elijah Hewett, Archer Reid and Clay Hall among others. 

Hall will miss the next three to four weeks due to an ankle complaint and West Coast have a host of other injury concerns.

Liam Ryan (hamstring surgery) will miss the start of the season, while Elijah Hewett (foot) and Dom Sheed (foot) are facing a race against the clock to be fit for round one.

Tall defender Harry Edwards will undergo surgery after breaking his finger at last week’s intraclub and fellow backman Rhett Bazzo is being deloaded to deal with a groin issue.

Jack Darling (hamstring) will miss the match against Fremantle but is on track to return against Adelaide next week.

Jeremy McGovern (soreness) is no certainty to face the Dockers.

Cole will again fill an important role in defence this season, and he noted how different things have been without retired veteran Shannon Hurn.

“It’s a bit quieter. He was a grumpy man on the field sometimes,” Cole said with a laugh.

“It’s a bit different but we were ready for it, and guys have stepped up.

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“Brady Hough is kind of playing that role that ‘Bunga’ played last year, so it’s exciting to see.”

West Coast have unveiled joint captains this year – Oscar Allen and Liam Duggan.

The power definitely hasn’t gone to Duggan’s head.

“He’s too nice of a guy. He’s one of the nicest people to grace the Earth,” Cole said.

“It’s still the same old Duggo.”

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