Luke Beveridge is overcome with emotion while talking about Tom Boyd.
Luke Beveridge is overcome with emotion while talking about Tom Boyd.

Coach breaks down over star’s retirement

WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has been overcome with emotion while speaking during a press conference the day after Tom Boyd's shock retirement announcement.

Beveridge choked back tears as he began speaking about Boyd's impact on the club and needed a moment to compose himself while answering the first question of his media conference at Whitten Oval.

He confirmed a private battle with depression was the reason Boyd had decided to walk away in the prime of his career.

After signing a seven-year deal, reportedly worth $7 million, Boyd is walking away from a reported $1.5 million, which will be removed from the club's salary cap.

"When you reflect on Tom's career, there are lots of emotions," Beveridge said.

"At the end of 2016 we thought the footy world was Tom's oyster.

"We didn't see the black dog creep up on him and at that time we weren't really aware that he had struggles historically and so it is sad because of what could have been in his footy career. But since then he has had some enormous struggles."

It is at this point in his response that Beveridge needed to take a moment to compose himself.

"I'm an emotional beast, unfortunately I cry watching cartoons, but this is a much more significant thing," he said.

"Obviously we're dealing with it in the public domain. Tom is an example of a person of note whose legacy in this space will live on for generations.

"I'm really connected to our group. I stood up and spoke about Clay (Smith) and Picko (Liam Picken) in a babbling mess and I'll probably do it again next week when Tom comes in."

Boyd, 23, announced his bombshell decision on Thursday after negotiating a release with the Bulldogs.

"My decision to retire now is a reflection of issues I've had over the past five years, both with physical injury and with mental health," Boyd said via a Bulldogs statement.

"They have now accumulated to a point where I just don't have the desire to play or the enjoyment of the game I used to have.

"I am satisfied that this is the right decision for my future.

"I approached the club about my desire to retire and be released from my contract this week and we have worked out a mutually agreeable position."

Boyd was signed by the Giants as the No.1 draft pick in 2013 and he played one season with the expansion side before heading back to his hometown in a blockbuster trade with the Bulldogs.

Tom Boyd gets some love from Toby McLean during the 2016 grand final. Picture: Adam Trafford
Tom Boyd gets some love from Toby McLean during the 2016 grand final. Picture: Adam Trafford

Boyd landed at Whitten Oval in exchange for the Giants getting then Bulldogs captain Ryan Griffen and the No.6 draft pick.

An accounting arrangement meant he was reported to have been paid about $1.7 million in 2016, which, if true, is likely to be the biggest single-season salary to an AFL player.

Given Boyd's status as an unproven teenager, the deal was considered high risk for the club.

After his brawl with teammate Zaine Cordy in mid-2016, the deal looked a lemon. But it would pay off most handsomely in September when Boyd starred in the Bulldogs team that roared through the finals series to win the club's first premiership in 62 years.

He was one of the best afield in the grand final win over Sydney, kicking three goals and taking six contested marks.

Boyd never reached those heights again.

In 2017, he took a prolonged leave as he dealt with clinical depression. A back injury curtailed his 2018 season and he did not take the field this season.

Bulldogs football boss Chris Grant explained that Boyd had reached a point where he couldn't "get to the next level again to become an AFL player again".

Grant lamented but accepted Boyd's decision to leave the sport after 61 games and 50 goals.

"Everyone at the Bulldogs is saddened to hear of Tom's decision to retire, given he is a much-loved and respected person around the club," he said.

"Over the last few years we have worked very closely with Tom and his family to support him through a difficult period, and we will continue to offer that support as he enters the next phase of his life.

"We will not forget the role he played on the field, especially in the 2016 finals series when he showed the football world what he was capable of on the biggest stage possible."

Grant said Boyd never prioritised being financially compensated once he opted for retirement.

The mid-season retirement came two months after fellow 2016 flag-winner Liam Picken decided to step away due to ongoing concussion issues. It also allows the Bulldogs another pick in this month's mid-season rookie draft.

- with AAP