Carlton defender Liam Jones has chosen to retire from the AFL rather than become vaccinated against Covid-19.
As a professional athlete working in Victoria, Jones was required to get vaccinated by November 26 in order to attend training and games.
Any lingering hope of remaining unvaccinated went out the window for Jones when the AFL announced its league-wide jab mandate late last month.
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Jones’ decision not to become vaccinated made headlines this week and on Sunday, the 30-year-old announced he would hang the boots up.
“I wish to announce my retirement from AFL football effective immediately,” said Jones, who had been contracted for the 2022 season.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank all who have supported me throughout my journey, both personally and professionally. I love the game and I’ll miss my teammates.”
“I hope that people respect my decision and privacy – neither myself or my management team will be making any further comment on the matter.”
Carlton head of football Brad Lloyd thanked Jones for his commitment to the Blues.
“We have been in constant dialogue with Liam in recent months and allowing him the time he needed to make an informed decision regarding his playing career,” Lloyd said.
“Liam confirmed with us today that he has made the decision to retire, and his wish for the specific reasons of that decision to be kept private – as a club, we will be respecting that.
“We thank Liam for his seven years of service to the Carlton Football Club, he earned every part of the 161 games he played, which included a complete positional transformation in the middle of his career, that could have only been possible with supreme dedication and hard work.
“We wish Liam all the best for the next phase of his life.”
Jones joined Carlton from the Western Bulldogs in 2015, having made his AFL debut in 2010.
He played his best football at Princes Park, garnering a reputation for his reliable hands and knack for winning marking contests.
Carlton now turns its attention to securing a replacement for Jones on its senior list for 2022.
Jones’ decision to retire comes after AFLW player Deni Varnhagen agreed to be removed from Adelaide’s list after she too chose not to become vaccinated.
The 29-year-old, who is a registered nurse by trade, is a two-time AFLW premiership player.