By ZAC MILBANK
SANFL 200 Club member Zane Kirkwood had made the sudden decision to retire after Saturday’s Round 7 Statewide Super League match against Central District at Unley Oval.
Sturt’s dual premiership captain, the most decorated current SANFL player, will play his 223rd and final League match due to lingering back issues which plagued his preseason campaign during summer.
The highly-respected, and much-loved, midfielder goes with the full support of his premiership coach Marty Mattner, who understood the 30-year-old’s tough call.
“There are few players who have achieved what Zane has,” Mattner told the Sturt website.
”He will go down as one of the best players in the history of the competition and certainly one of the greats of Sturt. It has been a pleasure knowing and coaching Zane. We wish him and his family all the very best.”
Making his SANFL debut with Port Adelaide in Round 3 of 2008, Kirkwood played his first 85 League games for the Magpies before moving to Oxford Terrace for the 2014 season.
The South Whyalla product exploded in his 137 games with the Double Blues, captaining the club from 2016 to 2019 while claiming four consecutive P.T Morton Medals as best-and-fairest.
Kirkwood was the most dominant midfielder in the competition throughout this period, underlined by his Magarey Medal wins in 2014 and 2016.
On the State League stage, he won three Fos Williams Medal’s as the best player for the West End State Team in 2014, 2016 and 2018 while also captaining SANFL in 2016 and 2018.
The Sturt’s smiling No.9 was also selected five times in The Advertiser SANFL Team of the Year – 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018 – including being named captain in the club’s drought-breaking premiership year of 2016.
Sturt coach Martin Mattner
''He will go down as one of the best players in the history of the competition and certainly one of the greats of Sturt.''