Former Australian and Bulldogs player Reni Maitua, addressed the 2018 Jersey Flegg squad about issues around mental health and opportunities in rugby league.
Reni began by going through his Rugby League journey and the issues and problems that occurred throughout. He identified that at a young age he was hanging around the wrong crowd and knew if he wanted to give Rugby League a real go, he would have to separate himself from that lifestyle. He then knuckled down, and began training hard, which ultimately paid off. In his first year of playing first grade for the Bulldogs he was lucky enough to win the 2004 premiership and two years later earned a spot in the Australian Tri-Nations squad.
Reni then touched on how whilst all this success was prevalent throughout his life, there were still things he was doing which were hindering his career. He touched on issues like over consumption of alcohol, attitude to training and misadventure which see many a young player’s career end quickly.
Reni highlighted to the boys the importance of seeking help through both Bulldog’s and NRL resources for dealing with issues of depression and anxiety. In attendance on the day were the Bulldogs Sports Psychologist Rob Browne, the Clubs Social Worker Athina Shelston, the Clubs Chaplain Ken Clendinning and Kimin Lim from the NRL’s Employment Assistance Provider. All staff members had the opportunity to outline their roles to the young men and how they were all there for them if needed.
The presentation was well received by the young squad and hearing the messages from a former club and Australian player highlighted the fact that these are everyday issues that can happen to anyone.
Current member of the Jersey Flegg squad Dalton Smith said,
RENI MAITUA SPEAKS TO JERSEY FLEGG SQUAD ABOUT DEALING WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES