Western Bulldogs star Bailey Smith has taken indefinite leave from the AFL club for personal reasons and to deal with private family matters.
The Bulldogs are supportive of Smith’s decision and expect the midfielder’s pre-season training will not suffer as a result.
The club will not rush Smith’s return.
“We’ll support him throughout and he’ll return when he is ready,” Bulldogs football boss Chris Grant told News Corp.
“Bailey has maintained an extremely high level of physical conditioning throughout his entire career.
“We’re looking forward to reintegrating him into the program at the appropriate time.”
Smith has played all 67 games for the Bulldogs since making his debut in 2019 and is one of the most popular figures in the AFL, with a huge following on social media.
The 21-year-old revealed in October how fame had impacted his mental health.
“I acknowledge (the attention), I know it’s there, it is the elephant in my brain, but I ignore it as much as I can,” he told the Common Chaos podcast.
Smith enjoyed an outstanding 2021 finals series as the Bulldogs reached the grand final, falling short against Melbourne.
Days later, a man made a complaint to police after an alleged physical altercation with Smith outside a Gold Coast bar.
No charges were laid by police and the Bulldogs took no further action.