Carlton coach Michael Voss has cut a frustrated figure when discussing the shock retirement of Blues defender Liam Jones, who refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Jones called time on his career last week due to the AFL’s vaccination mandate, despite having two years to run on a deal believed to be worth up to $500,000 per season.
The 30-year-old’s abrupt call leaves the Blues with a gaping hole in its back six, with Jones a pivotal part of Carlton’s defensive set-up over the last few seasons.
Voss briefly spoke to reporters outside Carlton’s training facility and seemed less than impressed with not having Jones available to him.
“It’s obviously disappointing that we don’t have him,” he said. “Obviously he’s finished up now, so we’ll start to move forward in the coming days.”
Despite Voss’ disappointment, Jones has received support from both his old teammates as well as fellow players around the league, namely Norm Smith Medallist Christian Petracca.
“Everyone respects him so highly so I think it’ll take a while to get over it,” said Carlton forward Charlie Curnow of Jones’ decision.
“It’s important for us to keep on getting around him and it’s obviously not an easy time for him,” Carlton best and fairest winner Sam Walsh added.
While Jones is the first casualty of the AFL’s vaccination policy, he is not expected to be the last, with Petracca revealing the hesitancy he and his teammates had prior to being vaccinated.
“First of all, we’re human so everyone’s going to have concerns like everyone else,” he told KIIS FM.
“That was the biggest thing when we first got spoken to about [the vaccine] … a lot of boys asked if there’s a way where we don’t have to get it but we can still play.”
Petracca added that he “respected” Jones for his decision to retire due to the mandate.
“He’s someone that has his view on it and if he wants to do that then that’s fair enough,” he said.
“I think I respect the way he’s gone about it in terms of his family values and what his wife and his family probably think. It’s such a tough decision because it’s something that the AFL sort of mandated.”