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Celebrating the class of 2023: All the AFL players hanging up the boots this year


AFL players retiring

It seems each year that the crop of AFL retirees is bigger and more star-studded than the last. 

And that’s certainly the case in 2023; a Brownlow medallist, multiple Norm Smith medallists and of course, the indescribably legendary Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin.

Some huge names are calling the 2023 AFL season their last. Here’s the full list of AFL players retiring.

AFL players retiring in 2023

Listed in order of AFL games played

Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin (Sydney, Hawthorn)

Debut 2005 | 354 games (182 Hawthorn, 172 Sydney) | 1066 Goals (580 Haw, 486 Syd)

Two Premierships

Where to start with Buddy? Undoubtedly one of the most decorated and entertaining players of the modern era, it’s no surprise that there have already been calls to elevate Franklin immediately to Hall of Fame status.

AFL players retiring, Lance Franklin, Buddy
Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin | AFL players retiring

The Sydney and Hawthorn superstar’s career is stacked with accolades, with his two Premierships at the Hawks and equal-record eight All-Australian selections (which included being named captain in his final selection in 2018) just the beginning of his extensive trophy cabinet. Franklin won four Coleman Medals, and topped his club’s goal-scoring a remarkable ‘thirteeeeeen’ times (six at the Hawks and seven at the Swans) throughout his career. 

Buddy’s 1000th goal in Round 2 of the 2022 season will live long in the memory of footy fans and pundits, as perhaps one of the crowning moments of his incredible career.

Jack Riewoldt (Richmond)

Debut 2007 | 346 games | 785 Goals

Three Premierships

Riewoldt retires a Richmond legend, finishing his career second on the Tigers’ all-time goalkicking list, and having played the second-most games at the club. 

Like Trent Cotchin (featured below), Riewoldt was an instrumental figure in Richmond’s three Premierships, playing in all three winning Grand Finals. Riewoldt made the All-Australian team three times across his career, winning three Coleman medals and twice being named as Richmond’s Best & Fairest. 

Shannon Hurn (West Coast Eagles)

Debut 2006 | 332 games | 50 Goals

One Premiership

A general and a constant force of the Eagles’ backline throughout his career, Hurn retires as West Coast’s games record holder.

The 35-year-old captained the Eagles from 2015-2019 and retires a Premiership captain, having led the Eagles to their 2018 Grand Final win against Collingwood. In the same season he received his first All-Australian jacket, and was named again the following year, elevated to the title of All-Australian Vice-Captain.

AFL players retiring, Shannon Hurn
Eagles leader Shannon Hurn | AFL players retiring

Trent Cotchin (Richmond)

Debut 2008 | 303 games | 141 Goals

Three Premierships

Cotchin is just one of many decorated names in the list of AFL players retiring in 2023. A Brownlow Medallist and three-time Premiership captain, Cotchin is perhaps the face of Richmond’s dominant era between 2017 and 2020.

The former #2 pick also won three Jack Dyer Medals as Richmond’s best and fairest, and was named in the All-Australian team in his Brownlow year in 2012.

AFL players retiring, Jack Riewoldt, Trent Cotchin
Tigers greats Jack Riewoldt (left) & Trent Cotchin (right) | AFL players retiring

Jack Ziebell (North Melbourne)

Debut 2009 | 279 games | 183 Goals

A former top-10 pick, Ziebell retires after an unassuming and consistent 279-game career. 

The midfielder captained the Kangaroos between 2017-2022, and will be fondly remembered by the North Melbourne faithful for his service to the club. Ziebell was physical and fearless.

AFL players retiring | Jack Ziebell’s announcement

Isaac Smith (Geelong, Hawthorn)

Debut 2011 | 266 games (210 Hawthorn, 56 Geelong) | 198 Goals (165 Haw, 33 Geel)

Four Premierships

Smith will be remembered as both a Hawthorn and Geelong favourite, and also as a four-time Premiership player. The hard-running wing played in Hawthorn’s three-peat from 2013-2015, and again in the Cats’ dominant 2022 Grand Final victory.

Adding to Smith’s stint at the Cats was his Norm Smith Medal win in the 2022 Premiership, collecting 32 disposals, three goals and 14 score involvements in a dominant display, and in the process becoming the oldest recipient of the Norm Smith medal.

AFL players retiring, Isaac Smith
Four-time premiership champion Isaac Smith | AFL players retiring

Luke Shuey (West Coast Eagles)

Debut 2009 | 246 games | 141 Goals

One Premiership

Despite being the Eagles skipper in 2023, Shuey has called time on his career after 246 games for the Eagles. He played in the Eagles’ 2018 Grand Final win, named as the Norm Smith medallist for his 34 disposals and goal.

He’s actually one of only two players in AFL/VFL history with one Norm Smith Medal and one career win in Finals at the MCG (per stats nut ‘Swamp’ on Twitter).

Shuey twice won West Coast’s best and fairest, and aside from his Norm Smith win, will certainly be remembered for his extra-time goal after the siren in the 2017 elimination final against Port Adelaide.

Luke Shuey | AFL players retiring

Ben Cunnington (North Melbourne)

Debut 2010 | 237 games | 98 Goals

Cunnington’s football story is one of great resilience, and he retires not only as a club favourite, but a league-wide favourite. 

The tough, hard-nosed midfielder won two Syd Barker Medals in his career at the Kangaroos, but will be best remembered for his inspirational and heartwarming comeback to football after recovering from two bouts of testicular cancer.

AFL players retiring, Ben Cunnington
Kangaroos champion Ben Cunnington | AFL players retiring

Tom Jonas (Port Adelaide)

Debut 2011 | 215 games | 2 goals

Jonas retires a one-club player after five seasons as Port Adelaide’s captain and 215 total games for the Power.

A consistent performer throughout his career, Jonas finished in the top three of Port Adelaide’s Best & Fairest three times, and was also an All-Australian nominee on three occasions during his career.

Nic Naitanui (West Coast Eagles)

Debut 2009 | 213 games | 112 Goals

Naitanui will be remembered as an entertainer; one of the league’s most exciting and dynamic ruckmen when up and about. Naitanui’s highlight reel is certainly one to watch, with a Mark of the Year win in 2015, plenty more high-flying highlights, and some brilliant goals – including an after-the-siren winner against North Melbourne in 2013. 

The electrifying highlight reel isn’t just the extent of Naitanui’s career either, with the 202cm Eagle named an All-Australian in 2012, 2020 and 2021, and winning the Eagles’ best & fairest back-to-back in 2020 and 2021. 

AFL players retiring, Nic Naitanui
West Coast star Nic Naitanui | AFL players retiring

Robbie Tarrant (Richmond, North Melbourne)

Debut 2010 | 194 games (174 North Melbourne, 20 Richmond) | 44 Goals (44 NM)

Tarrant hangs up the boots after two seasons at the Tigers in which he managed 20 games. But the key defender will certainly be remembered for the 174 games he played at the Kangaroos.

Tarrant won North Melbourne’s best and fairest award in 2016, and represented Australia in its International Rules outfit in 2017.

Phil Davis (Adelaide, GWS Giants)

Debut 2009 | 192 games (18 Adelaide, 174 GWS Giants) | 7 goals (1 Adel, 6 GWS)

Davis will be remembered as a Giants legend, having served GWS as co-captain for eight seasons – from the club’s inauguration in 2012 through until 2019 – after beginning his career with 18 games at the Crows.

The key defender’s legacy at GWS will be the hallmark of his career, playing 90 of a possible 99 games between 2016-19, including the Giants’ first Grand Final in 2019. However, Davis managed just 16 games in his last three seasons in the AFL, as he was unable to play a game in 2023 due to injury. 

Phil Davis | AFL players retiring

Josh Bruce (GWS Giants, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs)

Debut 2012 | 163 games (14 GWS Giants, 99 St Kilda, 50 Western Bulldogs) | 234 goals (3 GWS, 168 StK, 63 WB)

Another inaugural Giant, Bruce played 14 games at GWS before making a name for himself as a successful key forward in his six seasons at the Saints.

Bruce crossed to the Western Bulldogs at the end of the 2019 season, with his time at the Dogs – and perhaps his career – highlighted by a ten-goal haul against North Melbourne in 2021, a year in which he finished as his club’s leading goal kicker for the second time in his career, after doing so at the Saints in 2015.

Aaron Hall (North Melbourne, Gold Coast)

Debut 2012 | 161 games (103 Gold Coast, 58 North Melbourne) | 94 Goals (76 GC, 18 NM)

A running machine and an exciting player, Hall hangs up the boots after an admirable career at the Suns and Kangaroos. 

The 32-year-old polled 31 Brownlow votes across his career, but could only manage six games in 2023.

AFL players retiring | Aaron Hall

Tom Hickey (Gold Coast, St Kilda, West Coast, Sydney)

Debut 2011 | 149 games (12 Gold Coast, 67 St Kilda, 23 West Coast, 47 Sydney) | 45 goals (5 GC, 18 StK, 9 WC, 13 Syd)

Hickey hangs up the boots as an ultimate journeyman, beginning his career as a member of Gold Coast’s inaugural playing squad, and finishing at the Swans – with NSW the fourth state in which the ruckman has played, making him the first AFL player to do so.

Hickey’s career also included stints at St Kilda and West Coast, with 67 games in his five seasons at the Saints and 20 in his first season at the Eagles, before he fell behind fellow retiree Nic Naitanui in the ruck pecking order. Hickey played his final three AFL seasons at the Swans, highlighted by his appearance in the club’s 2022 Grand Final side.

AFL players retiring, Tom Hickey evolution
The evolution of Tom Hickey – QLD > VIC > WA > NSW – the only four-state player in AFL history | AFL players retiring

Jason Castagna (Richmond)

Debut 2016 | 134 games | 127 Goals

Three Premierships

Castagna made a surprise retirement call before the 2023 season, but retires as a Tigers fan-favourite and three-time Premiership player. He averaged over a goal per game in Richmond’s 2017 and 2019 Premiership years, and was a valuable member of the Tigers’ team again in 2020, managing 17 goals for the season.

Jason Castagna | AFL players retiring

Paul Seedsman (Collingwood, Adelaide)

Debut 2012 | 132 games (49 Collingwood, 83 Adelaide) | 66 goals (17 Coll, 49 Adel)

Seedsman’s 132-game career spanned 13 seasons between the Pies and Crows, with the powerful-kicking half-back unable to feature at AFL level in 2022 or 2023 due to concussion and injury issues. 

A consistent performer and well-loved by Crows fans, Seedsman will also be remembered for his ANZAC Medal-winning performance for Collingwood in 2015, where he amassed 31 disposals and booted a goal.

Luke Dunstan (St Kilda, Melbourne)

Debut 2014 | 121 games (116 St Kilda, 5 Melbourne) | 46 goals (46 St Kilda)

Luke Dunstan was a solid midfielder for the Saints, contributing over 100 handy games; averaging just over 20 disposals across 116 games for St Kilda.

In the twilight of his career, Dunstan couldn’t find much market interest, with the Saints deciding to move on after season 2021. But Demons coach Simon Goodwin saw an opportunity to add some experience and depth to his midfield group. Dunstan didn’t play any senior footy in 2023, playing five times for the Dees the year prior.

The 28-year-old is sure to gain plenty of strong interest from country league clubs, if he chooses to go down that route.

Jonathon Ceglar (Collingwood, Hawthorn, Geelong)

Debut 2013 | 110 games (101 Hawthorn, 9 Geelong) | 43 goals (43 Haw)

Ceglar hangs up the boots after a memorable career at the Hawks and Cats. A member of the Hawks’ 2013, 2014 and 2015 Premiership-winning playing lists, the ruckman was listed at his fourth flag-winning club in his first season at the Cats in 2022. 

Ceglar started his career at Collingwood, where he did not play a senior game. He played less than ten games in a season only twice in his time at the Hawks after being traded to the club in 2012, but only featured nine times for the Cats in his final two seasons in the AFL.

Daniel Lloyd (GWS Giants)

Debut 2017 | 97 games | 72 Goals

31-year-old Lloyd calls time on his career after seven seasons at the Giants, as a constant face for the club throughout his 97-game career. 

Recruited at pick 26 in the 2016 Rookie Draft, Lloyd was a solid performer in his time at GWS, with his career highlighted by a 20-goal season from 16 games in 2021. The medium forward was also a member of the Giants’ 2019 Grand Final side and breakthrough Finals campaign.

Daniel Lloyd | AFL players retiring

Andrew Phillips (Essendon, Carlton, GWS)

Debut 2008 | 80 games (14 GWS, 27 Carlton, 39 Essendon) | 27 Goals (5 GWS, 10 Carl, 12 Ess)

The journeyman ruck has called time on his career after 80 AFL games across 11 seasons at the Giants, Blues and Bombers. Phillips will play until the end of the season, and will retire having been a serviceable ruckman at all three clubs for which he’s played.

Paddy McCartin (Sydney, St Kilda)

Debut 2008 | 63 games (35 St Kilda, 28 Sydney) | 35 Goals (34 StK, 1 Syd)

McCartin’s talented career was unfortunately cut short by concussion issues, with the forward-turned-defender suffering nine concussions throughout his career. A former Pick 1, McCartin played for the Saints from 2015-2019, when he was delisted by St Kilda to allow him to deal with his concussion issues.

McCartin played for Sydney’s VFL team in 2021, and was signed to the Swans’ rookie list ahead of the 2022 season. He played 24 games for the Swans in 2022 – including in the Grand Final – and played a further four games in 2023 before unfortunately suffering another concussion.

The Swans decided to rule McCartin out for the remainder of the season following this incident, but it would ultimately – and unfortunately – be career-ending.

AFL players retiring, Paddy McCartin
Paddy McCartin | AFL players retiring

Max Lynch (Hawthorn, Collingwood)

Debut 2020 | 11 games (3 Collingwood, 8 Hawthorn) | 4 Goals (4 Haw)

Lynch’s promising career was also unfortunately cut short in 2023, after he was advised by doctors to retire due to ongoing battles with concussion. Drafted as a rookie in 2017, Lynch debuted in 2020 and was traded to Hawthorn at the conclusion of the 2021 season.

Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)

Debut 2020 | 10 games | 0 Goals

The former number six pick managed 10 games for the Crows in his draft year, but didn’t feature for the Crows in 2021 or 2022. Despite some trade interest in the 2022 trade period, McAsey remained at the Crows and decided to step away from football at the beginning of this year. 

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