Dylan Roberton will remain on the sidelines for the entirety of St Kilda’s 2019 AFL season following a fresh heart scare.
The 27-year-old missed most of last season after collapsing on the field against Geelong in round four.
After feeling unsteady at the end of last weekend’s pre-season game against the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat, Roberton spent a night under observation in hospital.
Further analysis of data pulled from a monitor implanted in his chest showed “a period of irregularity” before the device activated at the end of the game.
Following conversations with doctors, Roberton made the call to sit out the year while exploring other options.
“It’s extremely frustrating because I physically feel fine, and if you exclude those two incidents, I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I need to listen to the professionals and take some more time out of the game.
“I still have a great desire to play at the highest level and want to make sure we look at every possibility.”
Roberton told his teammates of his decision on Friday morning, while the news – even with the slim hope of a return – rocked footy fans.
Carlton AFLW coach and former Hawthorn player Daniel Harford led the messages of support:
Health > Footy.
Good luck, young man. 👊 https://t.co/1RDB6YcsWh
— Daniel Harford (@HarfSerious) March 14, 2019
5 games ago, Dylan Roberton was 26 years old, freshly named in the All Australian squad and looked set on being a 200-game player. Life can be brutal. Whatever his decision may be, I'd hope the club (and the AFLPA) looks after him.
— Rahul (@srahul_35) March 14, 2019
Tough decision for Dylan Roberton, hopefully everything is ok now & for the future 👊
— Pete (@aflratingsPete) March 14, 2019
— Conrad Martinz (@conradmartinz93) March 14, 2019
Truly shattered for Dylan Roberton
— coacw (@coac_w) March 14, 2019
Gutted. All the best Robbo your health and family is much more important. ♥️😢https://t.co/eKaHuTnjE4
— Playoffs Mode Activated (@JustinDimieri) March 14, 2019
Rest up Robbo, we’ll miss you! 😢 https://t.co/kWHZGu9VlI
— Saints Cheer Squad (@Saints_CS) March 14, 2019
— Ali Soufan (@asoufan96) March 14, 2019
Roberton made the call in part to allow St Kilda to sign a replacement player under new AFL list rules.
Multiple reports say former Carlton defender Sam Rowe, 31, will join the club on Friday.
“Robbo is an incredibly selfless player, and nothing speaks more to that than his want to continue to play on and contribute to our group,” Saints coach Alan Richardson said.
“Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen this year.
“The club, our medical staff, coaches and the players will support him through this period and with whatever comes in the future.
“Whether that’s working with the coaching staff again like he did last year, I’m sure Dylan will still play an important role for us in 2019 and be there to support his teammates.”
“We, like him, are hopeful a solution to his condition can be found and we can see him in Saints colours once again.”
The loss of Roberton continues a dreadful recent run of luck for the Saints, who were looking to bounce back this year after a dreadful 2018 campaign saw them finish third-last with just four wins.
Key defender Jake Carlisle will miss most of the year with a back injury, spearhead Paddy McCartin is under a cloud for round one after suffering yet another concussion and reigning club champion Jack Steven has taken time away to deal with a mental health issue.
St Kilda play Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium on March 24 in round one.