Melbourne midfielder Angus Brayshaw has retired from AFL on medical advice, after his concussion in last year’s qualifying final against Collingwood.

The 28-year-old Brayshaw was trying to kick downfield against the Magpies when Brayden Maynard leaped in the air to spoil and collided with the Demons player, who was knocked out and taken off the ground on a stretcher.

The club announced on Thursday that neurological testing and expert consultation had concluded that Brayshaw, a 2021 premiership player, should be medically retired.

Brayshaw, who played with a helmet, had a history of concussions. 

Brayshaw told his teammates of the decision on Thursday morning.

“I am devastated that I can no longer play the game that I love, but I respect the verdict of the medical professionals, and the importance of putting my health before my career,” Brayshaw said in the club statement.

“I am really proud of what I have achieved over the past decade. I have been able to live out my childhood dream and while it’s been cut short, I am forever grateful to everyone who has been involved.

“I want to especially thank my teammates, my coaches and the staff at the Melbourne Football Club, for all they have done for me over the years.

“I also want to thank my family and my partner Danielle for their endless support. To every member and fan, thank you for your incredible support over the journey.

“Concussion is a massive issue facing our game. I hope from this, a terrible result for me personally, can come some positive outcomes for the future of player safety.”

A smiling Melbourne AFL player wears a cap and has a medal around his neck after his team has won a grand final.

Angus Brayshaw had 25 possessions and a goal in the 2021 AFL grand final as the Demons broke a 57-year premiership drought.(Getty Images: Paul Kane)

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin, praised Brayshaw for his character, commitment and achievements.

“As a coach, I am incredibly proud to have witnessed the impact Gus has had on this club, for a number of years,” Goodwin said.

“Gus’s ability to achieve what most players can only dream of, securing a premiership medallion and being part of something special, stands as a testament to his exceptional skills and dedication.

“He has not only excelled on the field but has played a crucial role in shaping the standards and ethos of the club. The legacy he leaves is something he should be immensely proud of.

“When I think of Angus Brayshaw, courage, leadership, selflessness and elite football ability all come to mind. Above all else though, he is just a great human being.”

Collingwood’s Maynard was sent directly to the AFL tribunal over the hit which ended Brayshaw’s season.

However after a four-hour hearing, the tribunal cleared him of a rough conduct charge. He went on to play in Collingwood’s grand final win.

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New AFL executive manager of football, Laura Kane, said she was “not comfortable” with the decision.

Before the start of the 2024 season, the AFL announced a change to the rules, making it clear that players had a greater duty of care to avoid making high contact with opponents while trying to smother.

The new rules say that when a player leaves the ground trying to smother, the player’s act will be deemed at least to be careless unless they have taken all reasonable steps to avoid contact or minimise the force of contact.

The AFL released a statement, supporting Brayshaw’s decision.

“Angus’s health and wellbeing is of the upmost importance and his decision, made in consultation with his medical team, is one more courageous act that Angus consistently demonstrated throughout his decorated career across 167 games,” the AFL said.

“Angus’s contribution to footy on the field is well documented and we look forward to his continued contribution to our game off the field in the coming years.

“We wish Angus, Danielle, and their families all the very best, and applaud Angus’s leadership in making this decision for himself, his family and his club.”

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Brayshaw has a strong family history in Australian rules football.

His grandfather Ian played in the WAFL for Claremont and won a premiership.

His father Mark also played for Claremont, and played 32 AFL games for North Melbourne in the early 1990s.

Brayshaw’s two brothers, Andrew and Hamish, are also footballers.

Andrew has played 123 AFL games for Fremantle, while Hamish was AFL-listed for the West Coast Eagles and played one game — he now plays in the WAFL for East Perth.

The Dockers were among those to put out messages of support for Brayshaw on social media in the wake of the announcement.