FORMER Gisborne captain Jarrad Lynch concedes it's likely he has played his last game for the Bulldogs.
Lynch has been an integral part of the Bulldogs since joining the club in 2010 and has ridden the rollercoaster of a club that was at the top challenging for flags when he arrived, to bottoming out and having to rebuild on and off the field before again emerging as a force in the Bendigo Football-Netball League.
You only need to hear the passionate words of senior coach Rob Waters to know just what Lynch has meant to the Bulldogs.
"He epitomises everything our club is about in the way he carries himself. I can't rate Lynchy highly enough... in terms of the all the footy people I've been involved with over the years, he's right up there."
Waters was speaking last Saturday night after the impressive Bulldogs had just beaten South Bendigo by 106 points, with that win coming 48 hours after Lynch tore his ACL at training.
Lynch was on the comeback trail from an earlier pre-season knee injury in February and was eyeing off a return to the field in the coming weeks.
"I had been doing a fair bit of work for three months to try to get back and with it being a fairly strong side, it's not something you want to be missing out on this year," Lynch said this week.
"I was on a lead at training and the knee went on me, so it was probably something that was always going to happen whether that be now or in a couple of months time.
I was on a lead at training and the knee went on me, so it was probably something that was always going to happen whether that be now or in a couple of months time- Jarrad Lynch
"I had been feeling great; I was doing all my agility work at 100 per cent again, but unfortunately, it just wasn't as strong as it needed to be to play footy and it went on me.
"The target was to get back after the bye (next week); it wasn't something I was rushing, but it was feeling good and I was back into contact training, but unfortunately, it's just one of those things."
The versatile Lynch's injury comes at a time when his Bulldogs are undefeated with a percentage of 331.7 and looking every bit capable of winning the club's first senior flag since 2006, while the 200-game milestone was also on the horizon having played 193 senior games with the club.
While he hasn't ruled a line through a potential return to the field next year, the 30-year-old admits at this stage it would be unlikely given his priorities outside of football.
"I run a (concrete coating) business and I'm most likely going to be having a family soon, so I just don't know whether it would be worth the risk of going through this again," Lynch said.
"Everything is obviously really fresh at the moment and you don't write things off yet, but it's going to be a challenge.
"I'm going to need to take a couple of months off work and that's going to be tough, so I'll wait and see.
"Footy has been a No.1 priority for me for so long now and it has got to get to a time where it can't be anymore.
"I've had a really long and a really good career already, so it's not like I'm just starting out.
"I'd be 32 by the time I'd be back playing next year, but I'm grateful that I've had a good career over 15 years of playing seniors.
"Obviously, there's no premiership there, but it's not the end of the world."
Lynch joined the Bulldogs having previously played with the Sunbury Lions and West Footscray.
"Over my first 10 years I basically only missed six or seven games, so I've been very lucky injury-wise for the majority of my career and can't complain about that," Lynch said.
"I've played in a losing grand final and three losing preliminary finals, so I've been part of some strong Gisborne sides, but this team this year is as strong a side as we've had.
"The club as a whole is in a really good spot, so that's why it's frustrating what has happened."
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