All-Australian captain and Premiership winner Alex Rance has revealed he almost quit football due to family and spiritual concerns.
“I didn’t want to say you must have a faith and believe there’s a god out there.
“Anytime someone’s in the public eye, if you make a stance on anything, there will always be people who’ll pot you whether they believe it or not.
“When the media twists your words for the sake of a story or headline, you don’t feel as proud of what you stand for.”
Rance is a Jehovah’s Witness, and believes it both influences and conflicts the way he plays.
He said he faced challenges balancing his desire to lead and give feedback with accepting the authority of Richmond coach Damien Hardwick.
“The way I play conflicts, but the way I lead conforms,” Rance said.
“It’s about earning respect to a certain extent without compromising what you’re about.
“It would have been hard for (Hardwick) to understand what I was about, am I just taking the piss? Am I going to be a distraction, or a great player for this club?
“When I want to talk to people about love and care, which are central parts of being a Jehovah’s Witness, it’s conflicting because (on the field) I’m beating someone up.
“I’m trying to beat him, and put myself over him. But when I talk about the leadership side of things, I show that empathy, care and humility.
“It’s not an easy road to walk, when you have this conflict inside you.”