Luring Luke Hodge has been an inspired recruiting decision by Brisbane.
Luring Luke Hodge has been an inspired recruiting decision by Brisbane.

Hodge to retire as he eyes next move

LUKE Hodge will retire at the end of the year as one of the most decorated players the game has ever seen.

Hodge turns 35 on Saturday, having missed only four of a possible 33 games in his 18 months on the Brisbane list.

But the four-time premiership immortal will pull the pin on his football career this year and almost certainly become a Lions assistant coach next year.

Lions chief executive Greg Swann said on Monday night Hodge would combine a part-time role at the club with some media work rather take over as a line coach or full-time assistant.

Cyril Rioli spoke at Tuesday's Freeze MND event about being asked to take his place on the slide by Lions coach Chris Fagan, a good friend of Neale Daniher.

The Lions have an open invitation to Rioli to play with them given Fagan's links with the retired star, and even have a list management meeting on Tuesday.

But he has said he is not interested in a return and would only ever play with Hawthorn, where he won four premierships.

Swan said at the weekend Hodge had recently bought a house in Brisbane and had no plans to return to Melbourne any time soon

Lions coach Chris Fagan with Luke Hodge. Picture AAP/David Clark
Lions coach Chris Fagan with Luke Hodge. Picture AAP/David Clark

Hodge is content to move on and allow the young Lions defenders to take his spot in the back six next year.

The Lions would have to find a place in their assistant coaching team for him but Hodge has no plans to play on next year.

Some critics questioned why he would play on at Brisbane after retiring with a superb football resume at Hawthorn.

But he has justified that decision and is in such a rich vein of form there had been discussion about whether he would play on next year.

Hodge will be an automatic Hall of Famer when he is eligible, having amassed four premierships, three All-Australian jumpers, two Norm Smith medals and having captained three of those premierships.

Asked whether Hodge will play on next year, Swann replied: "No, I don't think so. I reckon he will get to the end of the year and that will do. He is going to more likely than not come onto the coaching panel.

"He has just bought a house up there, so he's not going anywhere."

 

Luke Hodge has helped Brisbane lure other players. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images
Luke Hodge has helped Brisbane lure other players. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images

The Lions have been able to secure star Lachie Neale and players including Marcus Adams and Lincoln McCarthy, with Swann crediting Hodge's move north with kick-starting that momentum shift.

"When he came that was a massive turning point for us and he came because of the coach," he said.

"Because he came, we had not so much a stigma but an issue with the go-home five and kept losing people and couldn't attract them, so when he came that was a real shift in everyone's thought processes.

"He is staying and it does suit some people to be out of the bubble. You can get as much or as little footy as you like. But he doesn't get people in the street looking for a selfie like he would in Melbourne."

Swann said Lions football boss David Noble, spruiked as a potential coach of Carlton, had indicated he would not put his hat in the ring.

"I only briefly spoke to him. I don't think so, but he's happy doing what he is doing. He is doing an outstanding job and I don't think he has aspirations to coach (right now)."

News Corp Australia


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