Earlier this month, Tigers coach Damien Hardwick left the door ajar for the defender’s return but said the ball was in his court.
“In the back of our minds, we are still hoping that he might think about coming back but that’s getting less likely I think,” Balme told SEN on Tuesday.
“I did think that [he would return] but it was probably more optimism than any evidence.
“He’s such a strong-minded kid that he doesn’t tell you things for the fun of it, so we have to accept the fact that maybe it is the end for him.
“It will be disappointing because he is such a wonderful player but in the end, as a club, you’ve just got to cope with it because it’s something the individual wants to do.”