‘Individual challenges:’ Bulldog Lachie Hunter granted leave of absence

Western Bulldogs midfielder Lachie Hunter is taking indefinite leave from the club to manage personal issues.

Last year’s grand finalists said it was agreed after “internal discussions” that Hunter, 27, should have a break from Whitten Oval and would not play at AFL or VFL level.

The 167-gamer also stepped away from playing in July 2020 – two games back from a suspension – in the aftermath of a drink-driving incident in April that year, an indiscretion which resulted in him standing down from the vice-captaincy and copping a four-match ban from the Bulldogs.

Western Bulldogs’ head of football Chris Grant said Hunter, playing his 10th AFL season, had been managing personal issues for an unspecified period.

“The club will support Lachie as he works through some individual challenges, which have affected his health and wellbeing,” Grant said in a statement.

“Lachie has been dealing with some personal issues for a period of time.

“We will continue to support Lachie during his leave of absence, with his personal wellbeing the sole focus for everyone in the immediate term.

“During this period of absence from the football program Lachie will not play at either AFL or VFL level.

“We expect that Lachie’s privacy will be respected during this period.”

In April 2020, Hunter was involved in a car crash in Middle Park when he lost control of his vehicle and damaged four other cars.

Later that year, Hunter was fined $1000 and escaped conviction after he pleaded guilty to drink driving and failing to provide his details after the crash.

Hunter was the subject of the altercation between Western Bulldog coach Luke Beveridge and Fox Footy journalist Tom Morris – a sub-plot to the AFL’s season-opener – when the coach launched a verbal tirade at Morris after the journalist reported days before the match that the talented Bulldog was set to be dropped.

Hunter, though named in the selected 22 for the Bulldogs against reigning premiers Melbourne that night, was relegated to the medical sub only to come into the starting line-up after Jason Johannisen was injured in the warm-up.

After the Bulldogs’ lost to Melbourne, Beveridge launched a strong spray at the journalist, accusing him of “gutter journalism” for breaking a team selection story.

Morris was later sacked by Fox Footy for an unrelated matter – offensive remarks he made about a Fox colleague that were recorded and leaked online.


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