VFL TEAMS: Superstar to make shock VFL appearance

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Richmond premiership player Alex Rance will line up for an old rival this week
RICHMOND premiership hero Alex Rance will make a surprise one-off appearance for Essendon in the Bombers' VFL clash with flag fancy Southport at Fankhauser Reserve on Sunday.

Rance, 31, has only played one match at any level since his knee injury and subsequent retirement at the end of 2019 – for the Seymour Lions in the Goulburn Valley league last month – but is able to answer the call due to being on the Gold Coast holidaying with his family.

When Rance appeared for Seymour he was helping a good mate in Lions captain Ben Clifton, and this time he is answering an SOS from another – Essendon AFL coach Ben Rutten – with the Bombers being short on troops at VFL level after their lockdown escape to Queensland last week.

He will be joined by former St Kilda No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin, who has been playing at centre half-back for Sydney's VFL team but has been loaned to the Bombers – giving Essendon a star-studded defence that also includes regulars Brandon Zerk-Thatcher and Martin Gleeson.

Rance played exactly 200 AFL matches for Richmond, including the breakthrough 2017 premiership, and was named All Australian five times in a decorated career.

But he tore his ACL in his milestone match in round one, 2019, and after failing to get back in time for a second flag, walked away from football to focus on his family and religion.

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Copy link Link copied to clipboard Huge Tiger concern as Rance goes down with a knee Star defender Alex Rance assisted off with a knee injury

Northern Territory legend Cam Ilett, 36, who won six best-and-fairests for NT Thunder and eight NTFL premierships with St Mary's and Nightcliff, will also play for Essendon, as will his Nightcliff teammate Kyle Emery, who kicked 61 goals in that competition over summer, and Gold Coast top-up player Tom Hofert (three games this season).

Sydney has also loaned Academy graduates Reed van Huisstede (10 games)…
Brendan Rhodes
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