Richmond defender Alex Rance has apologised for the cowardly hit on Jack Watts that has landed him a two-week AFL suspension and placed him at the lowest point in his career.
The Richmond defender’s elbow to the back of Watts’ head late in Sunday night’s loss to Melbourne earned him universal condemnation and a charge of striking.
A contrite Rance emerged on Tuesday to accept the ban, revealing he had texted Watts to say sorry before fronting his teammates.
Amongst the apologising, the reigning Tigers best and fairest winner had a plea of his own; don’t associate me with that.
“It’s certainly something I don’t want to be remembered for. It was a really stupid emotional act,” he said.
“It’s hard when one action can almost define you. I really want to get that message across – it’s so not me.
“It does hurt that I’ve put that perception out there that people could think that I’m a thug and condone those really violent acts.”
Rance refused to draw a link between his act and Richmond’s shocking form, as they slumped to a fourth-straight defeat on Sunday night.
“It’s hard to put and exactly when and why you snap … it’s on no one else but myself,” he said.
“I do put a lot of pressure on myself to perform at a high standard. That was an occasion that I should have done better in that contest.
“It was probably just a build-up for things. I’m a flamboyant character and wear my heart on my sleeve.
“It was a really emotional dumb thing to do when I should be much more professional.”
Rance has previously struggled to marry the demands of elite-level football and his Jehovah’s Witness faith, which saw him contemplate walking away from professional sport in 2014.
He said lashing out at Watts went against a “moral fibre” informed by his family and his faith.
And that’s why he agreed that it was the lowest point of his nine-year AFL career
“I’ve had some pretty low points … but I think from a perspective of knowing better and knowing the person I want to be and the person I want to portray, absolutely (it’s the lowest),” he said.
“That’s what I’m really frustrated at myself at. Succumbing to that emotion and succumbing to the heat of the moment.”
Rance will miss matches against Port Adelaide and Hawthorn.