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.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
news

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
News
London's New Year's Eve fireworks event is going to be ticketed this year for the first time at £10 a head
news

Revellers will have to pay to see New Year's Eve fireworks in London

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Life and Style
tech

Try putting that one on your Christmas list
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week