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Justin Clarke Reveals Future

March 31, 2016 8:48 AM

Justin Clarke of the Lions kicks the ball during the 2014 AFL Round 11 match between the Brisbane Lions and the Carlton Blues at the Gabba, Brisbane on May 31, 2014. (Photo: Bradley Kanaris/AFL Media)

Justin Clarke of the Lions kicks the ball during the 2014 AFL Round 11 match between the Brisbane Lions and the Carlton Blues at the Gabba, Brisbane on May 31, 2014. (Photo: Bradley Kanaris/AFL Media)

Brisbane Lions defender Justin Clarke has announced his retirement from AFL.

The 22-year-old backman made the decision after experiencing ongoing symptoms from a concussion suffered two months ago.

Clarke suffered a head knock at training on January 18, falling to the ground heavily after a pack mark contest and was ruled out of football indefinitely.

Lions medical staff have worked closely with concussion specialists in Melbourne to run a series of tests as Clarke's symptoms continued and he remained away from training.

Clarke travelled to Melbourne late last week for a final meeting with his specialist, before informing the playing group in person this morning of his decision to retire after 56 Senior games for the Lions.

Clarke said the major factor in his decision was his long-term health.

"It’s been a long process to get to this decision. I’ve sought advice from multiple specialists who have all confirmed that the decision to stop playing football is the right one," said Clarke.

"I’d like to especially thank the Club for their ongoing support and giving me the space to make the right decision, and for providing the opportunity to play football at the highest level.”

Lions Football Manager Matt Francis said the Club fully backed Clarke's decision and would continue to provide support as he moves into life after football.

Francis said the Club's overriding priority since Clarke's injury was his long term health, with an ultra-cautious approach taken during the recovery process.

"This has obviously been a very difficult decision for Justin, however our duty of care to him is paramount and we agree this is the best decision moving forward," said Francis.

"As we have said before, Justin has very definite plans for his career post-footy and that has had a big influence on his decision and we fully respect that.

"Justin is a great bloke and he is much-loved across the playing group, the football department and by the fans - he will be greatly missed by everyone associated with the Club.

"But there is no question that concussion must be treated with an extremely high level of concern and attention, and we will continue to do that as a Club."

Brisbane Lions CEO Greg Swann expressed his disappointment for Justin, and has thanked him for his service to the Club.

The Club will honour the terms of Clarke’s contract, which runs until the end of the 2016 season.

"It's a terrible shame for Justin to have to call time so early in his career, which I’m confident would have continued on for many years if this injury has not occurred," said Swann.

"Justin is a quality individual and a highly regarded player within the Club, and I am certain that he will have a very bright future in whichever industry he chooses.

“We will continue to offer Justin as much support as we can as a Club."

Clarke was drafted to the Brisbane Lions from the Northern Areas Football League (SA) in 2011 as the number 4 pick in the Rookie Draft.

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