Demons duo Whelan, Wheatley retire - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Demons duo Whelan, Wheatley retire

14/08/2009 08:14:02 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne defenders Paul Wheatley and Matthew Whelan have announced their AFL retirements and will aim to overcome injury to return for send-off games.

Whelan, 29, and Wheatley, 28, were both recruited in 1999 and made their debuts the following year. On Friday announced they were leaving the game at the end of the season, after 10 seasons in the top flight.

Whelan, a veteran of 148 games, has been a mentor to the Demons' group of young indigenous players and will leave the club as Melbourne's longest-serving Aboriginal player.

Wheatley was given a big wrap when first recruited, as he took on the No.31 guernsey worn by club great Ron Barassi, and played 134 games notable for long kicking.

Injuries have restricted both backmen this season, as Whelan has played just eight games and Wheatley two.

Both will miss Sunday's game against Fremantle, but Whelan (knee) and Wheatley (quad) are keen to return to the side over the remaining two rounds.

Wheatley said he was proud to have played for Melbourne and predicted a bright future.

"It's been exciting to see the team develop around me," he said.

"Our current list of young players will hold the club and our supporters in very good stead over the next 10 years and beyond."

Whelan was also optimistic for the future, especially for the emergence of the indigenous players.

"I know the club is heading in the right direction and it's going to be great to watch the next crop of young indigenous players in Liam (Jurrah), Neville (Jetta), Jamie (Bennell), Austin (Wonaeamirri) and Aaron (Davey) blossom over their journey," he said.

Meanwhile, North Melbourne have re-signed midfielder Andrew Swallow to a new two-year contract, which ties him to the club until the end of 2011.

Swallow has played 59 games, including 19 this season after just three in 2008.

The Kangaroos also re-signed first-year players Ben Warren (nine games) and Sam Wright (four), and young forward Robbie Tarrant, who is yet to debut, all to two-year deals.

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