Fremantle forward/ruckman Michael Apeness has announced his retirement following five years at the club.

The 23-year-old arrived at Fremantle in the 2013 National Draft and played 12 games in a career hampered with numerous injuries.

Apeness said he made the decision to retire following his return to WA after spending the off-season with his family.

“Retiring is not a decision I’m taking lightly and I thank the Fremantle Football Club for their support in this process,” Apeness said.

“It’s been a long journey, considering all of the injuries I’ve had, and I thank my teammates, coaches and the Fremantle fans for their support throughout my career.”

After signing a one-year contract extension in July for the 2019 season, Apeness suffered a severe hamstring injury in a WAFL game that ruled him out for the remainder of 2018.

In October, Fremantle moved Apeness from their primary list with the commitment of taking him in Friday’s 2018 NAB AFL Rookie Draft.

As a result of Apeness’s retirement, Fremantle will look to bring in five new players through the NAB AFL Draft period on Thursday and Friday, with four through the National Draft and one through the Rookie Draft.

The club has also committed to taking Ethan Hughes and Ryan Nyhuis at the Rookie Draft.

General manager of football Peter Bell thanked Apeness for his hard work and contribution to the club.

“We were very sad when Michael came to us to tell about his intentions to retire, it was a really difficult decision for him but we respect that decision,” Bell said. 

“He clearly has had a lot of injuries to deal with over his five years at the football club. He’s been a wonderful servant for Fremantle who didn’t get a lot of luck.

“Michael decided that he wanted to retire and although that was very sad and we wish him all the best, it does mean it allows us to select another player in Friday’s rookie draft.”