By ZAC MILBANK
One of SANFL’s most courageous players, Sturt premiership defender Jack Stephens, will retire at the end of the Double Blues’ finals campaign.
Set to move interstate, the 28-year-old is hoping to extend his 138-game SANFL career as long as possible when his side tackles Norwood in Saturday’s Elimination Final at Adelaide Oval.
“Sturt Football Club is its people – supporters, administrators, volunteers, players, coaches. I thank you all,” said Stephens, who played in Sturt’s 2016 and 2017 League premierships.
”In my time, the Double Blues community has shown an unwavering passion for the club. Together with hard work and generosity, this passion has seen the club achieve great success in recent years.
”I am lucky to have been involved in this success and have confidence that it will continue. I will treasure the friendships I have made, the experiences I have had and the lessons I have learned. It will be sad to leave, but Sturt will always be my second home.”
Starting his career at Unley in the club’s Junior Development Squads, Stephens featured in Sturt’s 2008 Under 17 premiership.
Making his League debut in Round 2 of 2011, the man known as ”Squiddy” has been the Double Blues’ vice-captain for the past three seasons after gaining significant respect from his selfless style of play.
Possessing an outstanding ability to read the play as a defender, Stephens knew when to defend and attack for the betterment of his team – illustrated perfectly in his 2016 Grand Final performance which yielded him the Jack Oatey Medal.
”Jack has made a huge contribution to Sturt Football Club over a long period of time, I feel fortunate to have been able to coach Jack in his final year at the club,” Sturt coach Nathan Grima said of Stephens, the captain of this year’s triumphant West End State team in Perth.
”On field, he is a fierce competitor, reads the ball to intercept as well as anyone I have seen and you know what you are going to get from him week in, week out.
”Off field, he is an integral part of our group and a role model for all our younger players, he has a genuine care for the club and everyone involved within it. We look forward to seeing him around the club as much as possible in the future and we will be doing everything possible to send him out the right way.”