Richmond premiership great Alex Rance will link up with former Tigers coach Damien Hardwick at Gold Coast next season.
As a coach — not a player.
During his acceptance speech after being inducted into the WA Football Hall of Fame on Monday night, the five-time All-Australian was quick to douse any speculation surrounding his comeback as a player.
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But he did confirm he would become the latest member of the “little band” of coaches his former mentor is assembling at the Suns since Hardwick’s appointment last month.
“I will be at the Suns next year, yeah for sure,” Rance said, as reported by The West.
“I won’t be playing. I will do something at the Suns, I am working with ‘Dimma’ and the management staff on what that looks like and I think it probably lends itself more to the key-position craft, cultural stuff, which I really enjoyed.
“That is still a bit more ‘TBC’, but (we are) working through the finer details.
“Dimma is building his little band up there and I think it is going to be really exciting times.”
Comeback rumours have periodically swirled ever since Rance’s seemingly premature retirement just months after missing the 2019 Tigers premiership due to injury at the age of only 30.
He has since done nothing to silence the jungle drums after making cameo appearances for Seymour in the GVFL in country Victoria and, more significantly, for Essendon’s VFL team last season.
But the 33-year-old, who is now a Queensland local, has stuck by his guns, saying he has no interest in playing at senior level.
Rance will join premiership teammate and highly regarded Geelong assistant Shaun Grigg, who has been poached out of Chris Scott’s coaching staff with a year to run on his contract to join Hardwick at the Suns
And speculation surrounding three-time Norm Smith Medallist Dustin Martin’s future has inevitably ran rife since Hardwick’s appointment up north, with suggestions that the Brownlow Medallist may want to follow his coach of 14 years to the Suns.
But despite the pair being snapped in a photo catching up in a Gold Coast café last week, a move north for Martin remains extremely unlikely.
Joining Rance in the Hall of Fame was North Melbourne champion Phil Krakouer, two-time Sandover Medal winner Alistair Pickett and women’s trailblazer Jan Cooper, who became the first female inducted, while West Perth midfielder Mel Whinnen was elevated to legend status.