STAR midfielder Bailey Smith is taking indefinite leave from the Western Bulldogs for personal reasons.
Bulldogs football boss Chris Grant said the club was fully supportive of Smith's decision and confident his training would not be impacted.
"We remain in close contact with Bailey, and we respect and understand his need to spend some time away from the club at the moment," Grant told News Corp.
At the start of the 2021 season, Smith opened up to AFL.com.au's chief football correspondent Damian Barrett about his struggles with mental health, and he urged the AFL industry to open itself further to discussing and dealing with the issue.
(watch the interview in the player below).
In a raw and powerful interview, the gun midfielder - who has a cult following on Instagram and a rock star image - said "you can never judge a book by its cover".
"There was actually a time where (former player Dale Morris) looked after me - I broke down at the club, everyone had left one night, and I was just struggling, this was in my first year, when it all gets too much for you," Smith told Barrett.
>> READ ABOUT BAILEY SMITH'S MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES HERE
While Smith is facing personal issues, it has been reported that the leave of absence is also in part due to "private family matters".
Grant said: "With such a short training block before the Christmas break for the AFL squad; we are comfortable to afford Bailey the time he needs. We'll support him throughout, and he'll return when he is ready.
>> MORE 'TOE TO TOE WITH DAMO' INTERVIEWS STREAMING IN AFL ON DEMAND NOW
"Bailey has maintained an extremely high level of physical conditioning throughout his entire career, and we're looking forward to reintegrating him into the program at the appropriate time."
Smith is one of the most popular figures in the AFL, developing a huge social media following since he was drafted by the Bulldogs in 2018.
Following the Bulldogs' Grand Final loss to Melbourne, he was allegedly involved in an incident on the Gold Coast which led to a police complaint.
It was alleged that Smith pushed a man outside the Burleigh Pavilion pub just after midnight on October 4.
No charges were laid, Smith was not spoken to by police, and the club said at the time no action was required.