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AFL player Liam Jones of Carlton wasn’t given an ultimatum before retiring after Covid-19 vaccine saga,


Jones joined Carlton from the Western Bulldogs in 2015. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Jones joined Carlton from the Western Bulldogs in 2015. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Carlton is adamant no ultimatum was given to star defender Liam Jones who has quit the AFL rather than become vaccinated against Covid-19.

Jones make the shock announcement on Sunday, becoming the first AFL play to walk away from the league which has a vaccine mandate in place.

But Carlton football director Brad Lloyd said Jones didn’t make the decision after being put under any pressure by the club, given all players need to be vaccinated before they can begin pre-season training next month.

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“I guess his reasoning is personal but there was no ultimatum in all of this,” he added.

“There is a choice throughout the industry but certainly no ultimatum whatsoever from that point of view.

“We give as much information on all areas of what’s happening at the moment and allow all our players to reach a decision.”

Lloyd said the situation “escalated” last week but it remained the 30-year-old’s decision, which the club supported.

“Liam has made it pretty clear that he wanted to keep the reasoning private, but I’ll work through what we can,” Lloyd said on SEN Breakfast.

“We were in regular contact with Liam through the end of the season around his playing future.

“We threw support around him so he could make a decision on where he wanted to go with his future, but it sort of escalated in the last week-and-a-half or so.

“It really came to a head late last week and over the weekend that Liam was pretty strong on his decision to retire from AFL footy.”

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Jones retires with 161 senior appearances to his name. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
Jones retires with 161 senior appearances to his name. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

As a professional athlete working in Victoria, Jones was required to get vaccinated by November 26 in order to attend training and games.

Any lingering hope of remaining unvaccinated went out the window for Jones when the AFL announced its league-wide jab mandate late last month.

Jones’ decision not to become vaccinated made headlines this week and on Sunday, the 30-year-old announced he would hang the boots up.

“I wish to announce my retirement from AFL football effective immediately,” said Jones, who had been contracted for the 2022 season.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all who have supported me throughout my journey, both personally and professionally. I love the game and I’ll miss my teammates.”

“I hope that people respect my decision and privacy – neither myself or my management team will be making any further comment on the matter.”

Carlton now turns its attention to securing a replacement for Jones on its senior list for 2022.

Jones’ Carlton teammates paid tribute to him on social media.

On his Instagram story, Jacob Weitering called his backline partner-in-crime an “awesome player, great teammate and an even better person”.

Mitch McGovern said Jones was “one of the greatest to ever do it” on his Instagram story.

Ex-Carlton player Michael Gibbons called Jones one of the “genuine all-timers”.

Mitch McGovern was among those to post a message of support for Jones on social media. Image: Instagram
Mitch McGovern was among those to post a message of support for Jones on social media. Image: Instagram
Weitering posted this image to his Instagram story. Image: Instagram
Weitering posted this image to his Instagram story. Image: Instagram

Jones’ decision to retire comes after AFLW player Deni Varnhagen agreed to be removed from Adelaide’s list after she too chose not to become vaccinated.

The 29-year-old, who is a registered nurse by trade, is a two-time AFLW premiership player.

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