Jonno Nash and Charlie Happell 400d

Retired Swallow may still head to Suns in off-field role


The purge of players at North Melbourne over the past 12 months continued on Thursday with the retirement of former skipper Andrew Swallow, who wasn't able to get to Gold Coast to play with his brother as he'd hoped, so hung up his boots.

Since 2016, the exodus from Arden St has almost been without precedent in modern-day AFL. In that time, the Kangas have gone from the oldest list in the league (with an average age of 25 years, 24 days) to the youngest in 2018 (with an estimated average age of around 22.5 years, subject to their new draftees) - an extraordinary transformation.

So the Roos' root-and-branch rebuild is in full swing.

When Jarrad Waite and Scott Thompson retire at the end of 2018, as seems likely, the club will likely have only two players on its list older than 30 - Shaun Higgins and Todd Goldstein.

The Kangas played an elimination final in Adelaide just 14 months ago, in September 2016. From the 22 who played that night, only 12 players remain on the club's list.

The 10 players who have left the Roos since then are Michael Firrito, Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Daniel Wells, Lachie Hansen, Sam Gibson, Nick Dal Santo, Lindsay Thomas, Aaron Mullett and, on Thursday, Swallow.

Swallow, 30, was contracted at North for 2018 but said during last month's trade period he would "love" to join the Suns.

The Roos were prepared to delist him by Thursday's 2pm deadline, but the Suns in the end simply couldn't find room on their list to include the tough, inside midfielder. He announced his retirement soon afterwards.

The tackling machine, taken with pick No. 43 in the 2005 AFL Draft, played 224 games with the Roos and, despite being hampered by a lack of pace, captained the Kangaroos from 2012-16 and won the Syd Barker Medal in 2009, 2011 and 2012 - becoming only the ninth North player to have won three or more best and fairest awards.

It is believed he will now look to relocate to Queensland anyway, where he wants to bring his young family up alongside his younger brother David, who turns 25 next week and is about to start a family of his own.

It is believed Gold Coast are looking for a way to add Swallow to either their coaching staff or off-field welfare team that would take advantage of his experience and reputation as one of the game's good guys.

"It's been an incredible journey, but it's now time to move on to the next chapter of our lives and I'm really excited for what lies ahead for us," Swallow said on Thursday.

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