Nathan Merritt proves a theory.

Former NRL player Nathan Merritt has proven that any footballer will use depression as an excuse for bad behaviour on their way to earning a nomination for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.

Merritt’s lawyer used the excuse when the former Souths star faced court for repeatedly assaulting a pub security guard.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.

The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.

Merritt recently pleaded guilty to common assault after repeatedly punching the guard who was trying to help him get home. The court heard that Merritt was drinking in the gaming area until staff were advised to stop serving him. Intoxicated, he left the pub, only to return. When it was finally closing time, Merritt asked the guard to call his Dad for a lift. When that didn’t work, the guard organised a cab.

Instead of thanking the guard, Merritt reportedly punched him in the head about six times within thirty seconds. The former try-scoring machine was then arrested.

Later in court, the former Origin star’s lawyer drew out the tried and true excuse of any wayward former footballer, and Frownlow nominee, that the player was suffering from depression after retiring from football.

Merritt was eventually given a 24-month conditional release order under which he must continue alcohol counselling and see a psychologist.

Fortunately for Merritt, he can stay as long as he wants, and drink and gamble as much as he wants, at the awards night for The Frownlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame later this year. What’s more, he won’t need to use any excuse for bad behaviour, because at the Frownlow party, these is no such thing as bad behaviour.

Image: Getty Images

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