Brisbane Lions veteran Daniel Merrett is to retire at the end of the AFL season.
The 31-year-old will play his 200th and final match against St Kilda in Melbourne on Sunday week, drawing to a close his 14-year career with the Lions.
Merrett was initially drafted as a forward by Brisbane in 2002 and didn’t make his AFL debut until 2005, but has been a mainstay of their defence ever since.
“For the last five years it’s been bloody hard, copping 60, 70 inside 50s every week playing full back on the best forwards, it’s bloody stressful,” Merrett told his teammates as he informed them of his decision on Tuesday afternoon.
“I just want to give more time to my family and it probably feels like a little bit of the fire has burnt out inside.”
The Lions say Merrett will continue to “help out” next year with guidance to the team’s young forwards as well as assisting with player welfare.
Merrett insisted Brisbane’s future remained bright despite their terrible win-loss record over the past two years.
“For the last 12 years I’ve been playing seniors we haven’t had a whole deal of success. It’s been pretty tough but I wouldn’t give it up for anything,” Merrett said.
“We’ve had a lot of outside noise but as a group we’ve been solid.
“It’s the best job in the world and to do it as long as I did, I’m very grateful for that.
Merrett will play his final home game at the Gabba on Sunday against Geelong.