Richmond forward Ben Griffiths has announced his retirement from AFL football effective immediately, after being offered an opportunity to pursue a career as a punter in the US.
The Tigers can confirm Griffiths is set to take up a scholarship with the University of Southern California, where he hopes to carve out a career as an American football punter.
Griffiths leaves the Tigers after 63 games in seven seasons, and told the club’s website he simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
“Firstly, I’d like to thank Richmond’s players, coaches and staff for their support over the past eight years,” Griffiths told richmondfc.com.au.
“This was a difficult decision to make, but ultimately the opportunity was too good to refuse.
“It certainly wasn’t something I had been contemplating and only arose two weeks ago.
“It was tough telling my teammates and coaches this morning but they understand and support my decision.
“I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to play AFL football and it was an honour to represent the Richmond Football Club.”
Griffiths played just two games in 2017 due to several concussion injuries, and was reportedly one head knock away from retiring due to injury.
Richmond’s general manager of football Neil Balme thanked the key forward for his services, but admitted he was shocked by the announcement.
“This is a great opportunity for Ben and we thank him for his service over the past eight years,” Balme said.
“It came as a shock when Ben made the announcement on Thursday morning.
“Coming in to season 2018, we expected Ben to put together a strong pre-season and again feature as a forward target for us.
“However, we understand this opportunity was too good for him to say no to and we support his decision.
“Ben is a naturally talented athlete and I have no doubt he will quickly adapt to American football.
“I wish Ben and the Griffiths family all the best for the future.”