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Back injury forces veteran Swan to retire

Heath Grundy has been rated as one of the Swans all-time greats by coach John Longmire after the veteran Sydney defender announced his AFL retirement due to a lingering back issue.

Grundy, 32, played 256 AFL games for Sydney, including the 2012 premiership triumph and losing grand finals in 2014 and 2016.

He holds the record for the most games played by a Swans rookie, while he's the seventh-most capped Swan of all time.

Grundy, 32, said the decision had been made for him by the injury which initially flared up in an intra-club hit out in February and allowed him to play only the opening AFL round.

"With the doctors advice, and the medical staff, it's probably the best thing to give it a bit of a rest and let it settle down and move on," he said.

"I couldn't do what I wanted to do at home, it started to affect my personal life a bit.

"I was really struggling to get in the car then get the baby out of the cot and pick him up off the ground."

Renowned for his durability, Grundy was almost ever-present in Sydney's backline, playing 213 out of a possible 219 matches between 2009 and 2017.

"His ability to get up week in week out and play on the best key forwards has been incredible," Longmire said.

Grundy credited the clubs' medical staff and his own drive to play.

"I always prided myself on my preparation and professionalism. I learnt off the guys that came before me and there's obviously a element of luck along the way,'' he said.

" I think I iplayed some of my best footy injured to be honest."

Grundy kicked a career-high three goals on debut in 2006 as a forward alongside Swans legends Barry Hall and Michael O'Loughlin, but played just 24 senior games in his first three seasons and 34 times for the reserves.

His career took off in 2009 when then coach Paul Roos switched him to the backline, where he established himself as a pillar of the Swans side for the next decade.

Asked were he thought his career would have gone without that switch Grundy replied: "I don't think it would have gone too far to be honest, back to Adelaide maybe, who knows?

Among Grundy's toughest opponents were two forwards he played alongside at Sydney.

"Buddy (Lance Franklin) at Hawthorn was always a pretty tough opponent. Hally an ex-teammate and opponent towards the back end of his career was a hard man to play on," he said.

Grundy was renowned for his strong body work and aerial ability, but Longmire felt some of his other attributes were overlooked.

"He had a big tank as far as being able to run, his endurance levels were huge," he said.

"His athleticism as a player was underrated."