Tackle The Tough Stuff
This week’s round of Super League matches sees the return of the ‘Tackle the Tough Stuff’ campaign, focusing on mental and physical wellbeing.
And on this week’s podcast, several high-profile current and former players share their deeply personal stories around issues such as suicide, domestic violence and dealing with grief.
WARNING: This episode contains discussions about suicide. If you or someone you know is in need of help, you can find links to organisations who can provide help and support at www.bbc.co.uk/actionline
Warrington’s Peter Mata’utia opens up on his difficult upbringing, his attempted suicide and his young son’s severe illness, Wigan assistant coach Lee Briers talks about dealing with the death of his brother and Salford’s Elijah Taylor on forgiving his former friend and agent who stole £200,000 from him.
01:15 – Katy Graham, Super League’s marketing manager, gives an overview of why the campaign is taking place.
04:30 – An interview with Warrington’s Peter Mata’utia, who begins by explaining his difficult upbringing.
07:25 – He talks of his attempted suicide aged 18.
10:20 – Peter suffered a serious injury – he broke his larynx playing rugby league and could have died, but it’s the game that keeps him going.
11:30 – His young son was found to have a football sized tumour in his stomach.
15:15 – Dave is joined by Craig Tomason, the partnerships and communities manager for Community Integrated Care, the social care partner of the RFL and Super League.
16:00 – His brother Oliver plays for the Warrington’s Learning Disability team, and has become a social media sensation through his try celebrations, having played and scored at Anfield and been invited to close the London Stock Exchange.
19:20 – Craig was behind the formation of the Learning Disability Super League, the only one of it’s type named after the sport’s premier competition.
21:25 – Salford’s Elijah Taylor discusses how his former manager, friend and father figure stole £200,000 from him when he was playing in Australia’s NRL.
25:00 – Elijah explains how he found out and how, despite four years of legal proceedings, not one penny was recovered.
28:40 – He tells how forgiveness was his route to help bring closure to this traumatic period in his life.
30:30 – Finally, Elijah is emotional when confronted with the question of how he would respond to ever meeting his former friend again.
34:10 – The final guest is Wigan Warriors assistant coach Lee Briers, who brother Brian died in 2001 and it took him a decade to confront his emotions.
36:30 – A very emotional Lee tells how in 2009 he took the Challenge Cup trophy to Brian’s grave and in 2010 why he pointed to the sky after winning the Lance Todd Trophy.
39:00 – Lee says it’s OK to show emotion, because it shows you care.
41:25 – He tells how he dealt with pain and loss through drinking. But in 2019 he gave it up for a year and despite the death of his mother was able to cope without the need to turn to alcohol.
44:30 – Dressing rooms these days are much more forgiving places and Lee credits his former coach, Tony Smith, with helping him deal with anxiety before games.