Western Bulldogs forward Richelle Cranston will retire from AFLW following this weekend’s match against North Melbourne.

Cranston arrived at the Kennel as a free agent ahead of season six, playing 25 games to date in the red, white and blue across three seasons.

Saturday will mark her fifth outing for the season, bringing her overall career tally to 60 matches.

The 34-year-old has endured health issues which have impacted her ability to train and play consistently, contributing to her decision to retire.


“It’s definitely time – health-wise it’s important to put that first and focus on my health before footy,” Cranston said.

“Getting through this year was a struggle to be honest, so to play a few games was awesome, and getting to run out this weekend with the girls will be amazing, especially at home.”

Cranston represented the Bulldogs on three occasions during the 2016 AFL Women’s Exhibition Series, before officially beginning her AFLW career at Melbourne.

She played 16 games for the Dees after being taken with pick 24 in the 2016 draft, and added a further 21 games to her tally when she joined expansion club Geelong in 2019.

“I’ll miss this group and how much fun we have. That one-point win over Adelaide is one of my favourite moments – but I think my first-ever career highlight was the Exhibition Match here at VU Whitten Oval,” Cranston said.

“It was my first taste of it, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It was just awesome – there was like 11,000 people here and it felt like 50,000.”

Richelle Cranston during the 2016 Womens All Stars match between the Western Bulldogs and the Melbourne Demons at VU Whitten Oval. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

Cranston said she was grateful to the Bulldogs for giving her another opportunity to play at the highest level.

“The list of people I want to thank is too long – but I’ll start with Mick Sandry, Debbie Lee and Nathan Burke for giving me another chance after I was delisted,” she said.

“To my partner Emily, and Bec – they’ve probably been my two biggest supporters, as has my family - and to the girls, who I can’t thank enough.”

Bulldogs’ Executive Director of Football, Chris Grant, thanked Cranston for her contributions to the Club.

“Rocky is a much-loved teammate, and has brought so much to the Club during her three seasons as a Bulldog,” Grant said.

“The way she has gone about this season demonstrates her professionalism and resilience, and willingness to give her all for the team.

“She will be missed by the entire program and Club, but will always be welcome at VU Whitten Oval.

“We look forward to celebrating her career in Pride Round this weekend and wish her all the best for the future.”