St Kilda veteran Paddy Ryder has taken a leave of absence from the club for personal reasons.

The club announced in a statement on Wednesday afternoon that the 32-year old would miss the early rounds of the 2021 season to be with family and elders in his community.

“Family and community are a huge part of the culture and connection that we are building at the club,” Saints chief operating officer Simon Lethlean told 

“2020 was difficult for many families, with border closures and restrictions impacting everyone differently.

“We look forward to Paddy returning after some time way, energised to attack the 2021 season and ready to contribute strongly to our on-field endeavours.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 12: Paul Hunter of the Saints competes for the ball with Paddy Ryder of the Saints during a St Kilda Saints AFL training session at Moorabin on February 12, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Martin Keep/Getty Images)

With Rowan Marshall also indefinitely sidelined with a foot injury, it leaves the Saints with uncapped rookie signing Paul Hunter and ex-Bomber and Crow Shaun McKernan available in the ruck stocks.

Ryder has played 257 AFL games since making his debut for Essendon in 2006.

He moved to Port Adelaide at the end of the 2014 season before making his way to the Saints ahead of 2020.

St Kilda open their campaign against GWS next Sunday at Giants Stadium at 3.20pm (AEDT).