Round 9 started with an exciting game in Perth where a gallant Melbourne were eventually overrun by an Eagles unit that is beginning to look a very good chance to make back-to-back grand finals, if not premierships.
Star St Kilda midfielder Jack Steven has become the latest high-profile AFL player to take a break from the game to deal with a mental health issue.
Steven has been granted indefinite leave so he can focus on his mental health and wellbeing.
No timeline has been set for Steven’s return, meaning he may miss the start of the AFL season.
Lance Franklin, Heath Grundy, Travis Cloke, Tom Boyd, and Alex Fasolo are other players who have been granted leave in the past few years to deal with their mental health.
St Kilda’s general manager of football Simon Lethlean said the Saints fully supported Steven’s decision to focus on his mental health.
“Jack’s decision to put his hand up and acknowledge that he needs some time away is a brave one,” Lethlean said.
“He is a much-loved member of our playing group and has the support of all his teammates, his coaches and all St Kilda supporters.
“Jack will use this time to take a break from the daily routine of training and concentrate on his health.
“I know he is desperate to get back to training and preparing for the season as quickly as possible, but the most important thing is making sure he is in the right headspace to do so.”
Steven won his fourth best and fairest award last season, and looms as an important cog in St Kilda’s bid to climb up the ladder this year.
The Saints begin their season at home to the Suns on March 24, and are likely to be without Jake Carlisle (back) and Dan Hannebery (hamstring) for that match.