Alex Rance’s contract was one of the biggest footy stories of 2015.
But the day after Richmond’s Round 12 loss to West Coast, the story ended. Rance had re-signed with Richmond.
Former teammate Matthew Richardson caught up with Rance last week as part of Channel Seven’s Friday Night Footy coverage, to find out more about the 25-year-old’s decision, and why it took so long.
“I deliberated long and hard about it,” Rance told Richardson.
“[Leaving the game] was a pretty big reality for a while. I just had to weigh up what was really important in my life. Prior to that, I’d never really considered it. I’d just been doing whatever I wanted and not really caring about the ramifications.
“Now I’ve got a wife and I’ve got to think about how my image is portrayed publicly … it’s been the first time in my life where I’ve had to make an adult decision.”
“It’s something that keeps me very level, rather than the more superficial things [like] whether I’ve played well” – Alex Rance on being a Jehova’s Witness
To come to that decision, there were a number of factors Rance had to weigh up.
“One of the things I grappled with the most was being put on such a pedestal. As AFL players, we’re role models. To be idolised and put on this pedestal isn’t something that sits well with me. I know it’s part of the job, but I’m not necessarily going to be putting myself out there saying ‘look at me, follow me, I’m the fountain of all knowledge’, because I’m definitely not.
“I try as much as I can to stay humble and not get ahead of myself.”
It’s well known that as a Jehova’s Witness, Rance credits his faith for keeping him grounded.
“My faith is something that … it’s where I get a lot of my enjoyment,” Rance reflected.
“It’s something that keeps me very level, rather than the more superficial things [like] whether I’ve played well.”
Now eight years into his AFL career, the 2014 All-Australian has learned to expend less energy worrying about his mistakes than he once did.
“I try to take the emotion out of is as much as possible,” he said.
“When emotion starts to come into my game, I start doing things outside the rules. [From] a broader perspective, if I’m always stressing about what I do, it makes you not enjoy it as much, so you’re not fresh.”