By Hannah Wadley on 15 July 2018
Four former NRL players unified blue and maroon supporters on the night of the final State of Origin game to highlight the prominence of men’s struggles with mental health at a Brisbane event.
Dale Shearer, Sione Faumuina, Matthew Elliot, and David Myles were panelists at the event hosted by Hotel West End in South Brisbane. The event was organised by Blokepedia, an initiative aimed at encouraging conversations around the issues impacting the lives of Australian men.
The panelists discussed topics such as emotional wellbeing, mateship and communication, and provided the audience with some personal reflections of their own experiences.
Sione Faumuina, a former NRL player and Kiwi International, shared how his past alcohol addiction impacted his career.
“I was in the media for all the wrong reasons, got sacked from three professional clubs, and finished with nothing. I was addicted to alcohol, experienced depression and really struggled with the transition after playing rugby league,” said Faumuina.
“Drinking was my way of coping with things that affected me since childhood. It would make me feel really good, but then I would wake up in a police cell, or have my contract torn up, or I wouldn’t remember the night before.
“After finishing my rugby league career, I eventually stopped drinking because of the negative affect it had on the family. I’ve been sober for almost five years now, and the control comes from looking at the pain of ever going back.”
David Myles spoke of his own struggles with communication and his need to develop his skills beyond his career in rugby league. Myles’ stated he was skilled at communicating on the field, but revealed that wasn’t always the case in his personal life.
“I knew what I was doing in rugby league. Outside of it, I was insecure and very bad at communicating. I needed to develop my skills and be able to connect emotionally to take any relationship at work or life to the next level.”
Dale Shearer, a QLD Maroons legend and Australian international, reflected on how he still struggles to manage his mental wellbeing and admitted to still fighting an alcohol addiction.
“I’ve experienced losing my wife to cancer, losing my dad, suffering severe injuries from a car accident and having to learn everything all over again,” said Shearer.
Shearer enforced the importance of men communicating and seeking help if they are struggling. “It’s good to talk to friends about things, but it hasn’t really solved my problems. For anyone struggling right now, you’ve got to get that right help.”
The event ended with panelists and guests watching the final State of Origin game together, unified by Blokepedia’s message of men needing to have conversations that matter to support the wellbeing of not only themselves but those around them.