Dave Hadfield: Rugby league players' lot is not a happy one in a game suffering money and image problems

One of the most depressing thoughts for a sportsman is no reliable income

Depressed, unsettled and disillusioned. That is the picture of the modern rugby league player that emerges from a poll of half of those playing in Super League.

A survey organised jointly by Rugby League World magazine and the players' association, 1eague3, has come up with some startling findings.

Three-quarters of Super League players are considering leaving for the richer pickings in rugby union or the Australian NRL.

A third feel that they have had to deal with depression during their careers, while only a derisory three per cent believe that the game is well enough marketed in this country.

The chairman of 1eague3, the St Helens and England forward Jon Wilkin, admitted that some of the findings had taken him aback, but there are reasons why so many players should have responded the way they have.

Rugby league has become increasingly aware of the issue of depression since the Test hooker Terry Newton took his own life three years ago. Since then, a number of players have come forward to admit that they have suffered from some of the same symptoms.

The RFL has run a State of Mind campaign to encourage players to talk about the issue. None of the problems are unique to rugby league, but such an explosively aggressive game is perhaps more prone to them than most.

All the same, 34 per cent is a high figure for those prepared to acknowledge that they have had difficulties. Some of those will be coming to terms with the end of their careers – possibly prematurely – but for others, like Warrington's Paul Wood, it has come while they were highly successful.

Of course, one of the most depressing thoughts for a sportsman is that he is not able to earn a reliably decent income. Thus the second "headline" finding of the poll – that 75 per cent of current Super League players would be interested in switching to rugby union or the NRL.

In a sense, this question is a no-brainer. It is union or Australia where the money is at the moment, so if you ask players whether they would like a slice of that, a large proportion of them are likely to answer "yes please".The extra factor pushing them in that direction is the financial uncertainty at many clubs, with Wakefield last week becoming the latest to admit that their numbers do not add up.

Ask players whether they would rather be somewhere where they could count on being paid and you would get close to 100 per cent in the affirmative.

As for the 97 per cent who believe they are not marketed properly, the RFL will find that depressing after its much-praised League of the Extraordinary campaign, not to mention the promotion of Sam Tomkins, which has made him surely the most heavily marketed rugby league player ever. At the very least, this survey should serve as a wake-up call to the Super League that its sport is not in the best of health.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas