By Beth Newman
Last year, Bryce Perry-Bolt provided Palm Beach’s finals spark, finishing with seven goals in the SEQAFL Div 1 grand final.
Now, the 29 year-old forward has likely played his last game for Palm Beach, after a second knee injury ended his season, and will be watching on as the Lions vie for a fourth straight grand final berth.
“I won’t play this level of footy anymore. if I go play footy, it’ll be at the lower levels,” he said,
“Next year’s my 10 year reunion at Burleigh, so maybe there, but in regards to playing good competitive footy that’s it for me. “
Five minutes into the second term in Rd 11 against UQ, Perry-Bolt thought his season was over, his mind immediately jumping to the possibility of an ACL rupture.
“I had microfiber fractures in my leg, strained my ACL and medial ligament, had bone bruising and my cartilage was pretty smashed,” he said.
Perry-Bolt admitted he returned too soon after that injury and his faith in his body began to wane as the weeks went on, showing, as he battled through just three more games for the year.
“You think you’re always ready to come back and I suppose I wanted to get a couple of games under my belt before finals,” he said.
“I lost confidence in my body which meant I lost confidence in myself playing footy.
“I’ve always been a confidence player so for me not to have confidence…I can’t get going.”
Ironically, it was Perry-Bolt’s healthy knee that ultimately forced him to pull the plug, with the injury affecting his day-to-day life and work as a plumber.
“My good knee has been playing up for a while and I got the MRI yesterday and found out basically the cartilage is done,” he said.
“The pain was getting worse and worse to the point where I couldn’t train and it was interfering with my work.”
On the brink of retirement after the Lions’ flag-winning run in 2013, Perry-Bolt was driven by the challenge the QAFL presented and while it’s been yet another injury-interrupted year for the Lion, Perry-Bolt said it’s a decision he doesn’t regret.
“I really wanted to test myself at this level,”he said.
And despite the disappointing conclusion, the former Burleigh and Beenleigh player said he leaves with no unfinished business.
“Knowing I did give it my best and I’ve broken down, I can walk away knowing that I tried.”
Having played for Burleigh and Palm Beach over the years, teams part of intense rivalries, Perry-Bolt has seen his fair share of detractors and the bullocking full forward has learned to use it to his advantage.
“To be honest, when people do yell over at the fence if you’re with the team you love playing for, it sort of it fires you up,” he said.
“It makes you want to prove you wrong and beat the team that are bagging you.”
“I’ve probably copped it my whole career playing especially with Burleigh, I always had the reputation of being a thug,” he said.
“The funny thing is over my career, I’ve only ever been rubbed out for two weeks.”
Perry-Bolt said the Lions had worked hard to change their reputation in the past two seasons and it was something that was openly discussed.
“Over the past 12 months, and last year as well, I just wanted to let the footy speak for itself.
“When that stuff happened in the grand final, we said that would never happen again.
“We spoke about it, we said it wasn’t a good look for the club.”
A lot of the change in attitude has been down to the leadership, including players like captain Jesse Derrick and new recruit, Todd Bryant.
“Having a (leadership) group, with guys like Toddy Bryant, who have played in the quality comps, they’ve have brought their experience and it rubs off on everyone,” he said.
“If there’s any problems, it gets discussed, nipped in the bud straight away and everyone moves on from it.”
While he won’t be able to be an on-field part of any possible Lions’ success, the triple-premiership player said watching the next generation come through made the decision a lot easier.
“At the end of the day, I know my body would’ve struggled and giving an opportunity to a kid is a happier thing for me,” he said.
“I can sort of go out of the game and see another kid get his chance.
“Last year seeing Thommy Thynne come through to play in the senior team and now, seeing Scheery (Brad Scheer) make (the AIS) and to play regular senior footy was pretty good.”