Sad twist to AFL star's long-awaited return after 647 days

Port Adelaide veteran Matthew Broadbent has taken leave from the club to focus on his mental health in a sad twist to his return to the top level.

The 28-year-old played his first game since July 29, 2017 in round eight, finally putting long-standing ankle and foot injuries to bed.

But after three further appearances, Broadbent has been granted time off to manage his mental health.

The 165-game veteran averaged a career-high 22 disposals in his four games this season but it remains to be seen whether he will return to playing duties.

“Matthew is a valued player, teammate and person at the Port Adelaide Football Club. At this point, the best option for his overall health is to step away from the game for a while,” Port football boss Chris Davies said.

“The club’s primary focus is on Matthew’s health and welfare and we will continue to provide him with the ongoing support he requires.

“We can’t say at this point how long that will be but he will be given as long as he needs.”

Matthew Broadbent returned in round eight for his first game since July 2017. Pic: Getty

AFL players are now feeling more comfortable opening up about their mental health battles, with clubs putting more resources into helping players.

Earlier this season Western Bulldogs premiership player Tom Boyd retired in part for the benefit of his wellbeing, which was compounded by ongoing injuries.

St Kilda’s Jack Steven returned to the club on Tuesday after taking leave in May.

GWS defender Nick Haynes recently detailed how he first discovered he had a problem with anxiety in the under-18s.

Port Adelaide (6-5) take on Fremantle in Perth on Saturday.

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with AAP