Fremantle veteran Antoni Grover will retire at the conclusion of the 2012 season, ending what has so far been an outstanding 202-game AFL career spanning 13 years.

The 32-year-old informed the playing group of his decision in a team meeting today.

A life member at Fremantle, he made his name as one of the toughest and most uncompromising defenders in the game, playing alongside the likes of Luke McPharlin and Shane Parker during his career.

Grover made his debut in round 21, 1999 against Sydney at the WACA, making him the longest serving player on the club’s 2012 playing list and the only one to have debuted in the 90s.

He played in the club’s first AFL final against Essendon at Subiaco Oval in 2003 and reached the 200-game milestone against North Melbourne in round 22 last season.

Grover said it was a decision he knew had been coming for a while.

“I’m not getting any younger and I’ve been struggling with my injuries this year,” he said.

“It feels like the right time.”

Grover will remain with the club until the season ends, which he hopes won’t be for a few weeks yet.

“The boys are pushing into the finals, so I’ll see out the year with them and support them as much as I can.

“You never know what can happen in the next few weeks.

“I’m still here at the club and I still feel like there’s business to be done.”

Grover has no plans mapped out post-Fremantle yet, other than spending some quality time with his young family.

He hinted at a coaching career after enjoying working with Subiaco’s development squad recently.

“The kids were very receptive, so maybe there’s a future in that for me,” he said.

Fremantle general manager of football, Chris Bond, who was club captain in Grover’s first year, is in a good position to comment about how the defender had changed over the years.

“One of the key things about ‘Groves’ is that he hasn’t changed that much from 1999 to now, and that’s why there’s so much respect for him,” Bond said.

“The amount of respect that he has from players and staff is enormous.”

Bond credited Grover’s mental toughness and competitiveness for helping him achieve 200 AFL games.

“He approached every game like it was his last,” he said.

“His professionalism always came through, the way he prepared himself before and after games, and his competitiveness on the training track and on game day.

“We lose that hard edge and the ability for a more experienced player to pass that on to the generation of players coming through, which he’s very good at.”

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