‘Risk is too great’: Crows’ Sloane calls time on career

Anna Harrington |

A series of eye injuries have brought an immediate end to Rory Sloane’s AFL career at Adelaide.
A series of eye injuries have brought an immediate end to Rory Sloane’s AFL career at Adelaide.

Former Adelaide captain Rory Sloane did everything he could to prolong his AFL career amid eye problems, but ultimately couldn’t ignore the medical advice that forced his immediate retirement.

Sloane, 34, had a second bout of surgery on a detached retina in January, following an original procedure in 2021.

After extensive consultation with doctors and eye specialists, Sloane – who had already appeared to be in his final AFL season – informed his teammates on Monday he was calling time to avoid causing further damage to his eye.

“To be honest, I was probably at this point a couple of months ago weighing up the risk of playing again versus doing any further damage to my eye,” Sloane said.

“And I felt like I was there, but I felt like there was so much I still hadn’t had a crack with and (with) my personality, I’m probably a little stubborn and there was probably my ego jumping in the way I think a bit at times too. 

“But I really wanted to make sure I’d left nothing in the tank. And I tried absolutely everything to get back. And yeah, I was close, far out I was close.

“I love my job. I’ve loved being a part of this for 16 years. And it’s probably the realisation that you’ve got to let that go at some point for the betterment of my future health was just pretty tough for me. 

“But I do like seeing things, so I will keep my vision for the rest of my life. And that’s something I’m going to cherish.”

Rory Sloane chaired off.
Sloane is chaired off after his 250th AFL game for the Crows. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS)

Sloane has had a lengthy history of eye injuries, including a torn retina in 2013 and a fractured eye socket in 2017.

He was “spooked” by stories of detached retinas, and said wearing protective goggles wouldn’t have helped him because detachments occur due to knocks to the head, rather than pokes in the eye.

“I’ve had all the medical advice you could possibly receive and to continue playing probably would have been ignoring that advice, which I just couldn’t do in the end,” he said.

Sloane got desperately close to a comeback.

“I was probably a couple of days away from one game in particular going ‘yep, I feel like I’m ready’,” he said.

“And then as it got closer I was just like, ‘well, what am I trying to achieve, really?'”

The midfielder played 255 games for Adelaide across 16 seasons, winning club best-and-fairest awards in 2013 and 2016.

Sloane came fourth in the 2016 Brownlow Medal and was All Australian the same year, and was crucial to the Crows’ charge to the 2017 grand final.

He was appointed co-captain alongside Taylor Walker in 2019 and was sole skipper from 2020-22.

Sloane insisted he’d never had a farewell game in mind.

“Everyone’s got an ultimate way of how they want to retire, right? And I just wanted to make sure I had nothing left in the tank,” Sloane said.

“I said to the boys I was gonna play until I slowed down, I was running around and couldn’t get a kick in the twos (reserves) and then they’d have to throw me out of the club for taking up space.

“So that was how I envisioned it, but no one ever finishes the way they want to.”