Tigers star praying for Rance return
DUAL Richmond premiership star Bachar Houli is hopeful Alex Rance will return as an AFL footballer, admitting he was shocked by his teammate's abrupt retirement.
All-Australian Houli declared there was more to life than football and hoped Rance found happiness after stepping away from the game last month.
But he said the timing of Rance's retirement as the Tigers chase a second flag in three years caught the club by surprise and he hoped the Richmond great returned.
"We all wish that he comes back,'' he said.
Houli described Rance as "one of the best humans that ever existed''.
"He is all about family, all about happiness,'' he said.
"Yes, everyone is sad that he stepped away from the game but I pray that he comes back.
"Because he is such an incredible player but, more importantly, an incredible person.''
Rance, 30, has vowed to work on his private academy in the wake of his shock retirement last month, after spending most of last season on the sidelines through injury.
But Houli said the door was open for a Richmond return if the five-time All-Australian had the hunger.
"I pray that he comes back,'' he said.
"But, more importantly, we pray that he continues to be happy and to fulfil what he wants to fulfil in life.''
Houli revealed Richmond players were as surprised as fans when Rance - who he labelled " a brother for life'' announced he was stepping aside.
"I'm sure everyone was pretty shocked, I was very, very shocked to be quite honest,'' he said.
"Because I remember two days before he announced his retirement he was standing up talking about certain plays … it sounded like he was extremely passionate and just wanted to get on the field.
"I was really shocked, but things happen.''
Houli said leading a balanced life would be the key to any Rance return.
"Alex is a person that when he commits to something, he fully commits,'' he said.
"He admitted that he had struggled to balance his life to an extent and we all go through that.
"We are not perfect human beings.
"But I'm sure if he can balance other things in life and be able to incorporate all this, I have confidence that he will be able to return.
"But that's obviously his decision.
"What we want is for him to be happy because life goes beyond football.''