Retiring on the back of winning three straight AFL Canberra premierships seems like the perfect time to call it quits. So thought Aaron Wiles, as the Ainslie Tricolours midfielder decided to hang up the boots after helping Ainslie win an elusive three-peat.
But the Ainslie captain will pull on the famous Tricolours jersey for one more season with his side – not for any personal gain, but to honour his veteran coach.
Due to “tough circumstances” with beloved head coach Chris Rourke and his family throughout the off-season, a few players have reconsidered their decision to call it quits and have even coaxed a few out of retirement.
“We decided we will try to get one more premiership for him,” Wiles said. “Last year was supposed to be my last year but after speaking with the boys over a couple of beers, I decided to come back for one more.
“Former captain Ashley Harris also rallied around Chrissy and will be back this season. Chris is so beautiful to us off the field and is like a father figure. He takes us around for dinner and he treats us like his sons.
“He is well-loved throughout the club.”
The side has rallied around the five-time premiership coach, with their desire to see him succeed instilling an extra incentive to win a fourth premiership in a row. Wiles said the idea of creating a dynasty with Rourke was the match that lit the fire in his belly to play again.
“To be part of a dynasty is not really something you give up easily. I don’t want to have the thought, ‘could we have had one more’,” Wiles shared with Region Media. “Four is something that we never thought we would get close to. We are pretty stoked with three because winning one is hard enough.”
Wiles admitted there was complacency around the group last season as the side got off to a horror start, losing their first three games. Despite the poor start, the club went onto win 14 games in a row, including the 2018 AFL Canberra grand final, etching their names in football folklore as one of Canberra’s greatest teams.
“We were actually laughed at,” he said. “We didn’t just lose those games, we lost them badly. Other sides started to laugh and it was an unusual feeling.
“So we started to train an extra night and the way we were able to turn things around pretty quickly was a testament to the group we had.
“We are using that as a lesson this season. We cannot think that will pull it together at the right time of the year. We can’t afford to be complacent.”
2019 AFL Canberra Men’s First Grade
Tuggeranong Hawks vs Ainslie Tricolours
First bounce at 1:15 pm, Saturday 13 April