Heart condition forces Saint Roberton out

John Salvado
Dylan Roberton will miss all of St Kilda's 2019 AFL campaign with a heart condition

Dylan Roberton will sit out the 2019 AFL season due to an ongoing heart condition, although the St Kilda defender has not ruled out the possibility of resuming his career in 2020.

Roberton only played four matches last year before collapsing on-field during a game against Geelong.

The 27-year-old suffered another incident of heart irregularity - the cause of which remains unknown - during a recent pre-season game in Ballarat.

Roberton had previously undergone extensive testing from cardiologists and had a defibrillator installed before completing a full pre-season.

"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," Roberton said on Friday.

"Unfortunately, I need to listen to the professionals and take some more time.

"I still have a great desire to play at the highest level and want to make sure we look at every possibility."

St Kilda moved quickly to fill the vacancy on their list with former Carlton swingman Sam Rowe, who is every chance to play his 100th AFL match in the round-one clash against Gold Coast, given the depleted nature of the Saints' defensive unit.

Key defender Jake Carlisle will miss much of the season with a serious back injury, while fullback Nathan Brown is unavailable due to suspension.

"The reality of football is that we need to utilise the AFL rules to best prepare our list for the rigours and requirements of the competition, and Sam provides an important element heading into the season," said Saints director of football Simon Lethlean.

"He's an experienced defender, who can also play forward if need be and pinch-hit in the ruck."

St Kilda coach Alan Richardson praised the resilience of Roberton, who had enjoyed a career-best season in 2017, finishing second in the Saints' best-and-fairest award and earning an extended All-Australian squad berth.

"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. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen this year," Richardson said.

"To lose a player of his calibre is no doubt a blow, but as he said to his teammates when he spoke to them today, he has enormous faith in our guys to step up and fill the void."

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.

Carlisle will miss most of the year, 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 from the club to deal with a mental health issue.