An ex Castleford Tigers player who was forced to retire because of injury has praised the club and his family for their support.
Kirk Dixon, 31, spoke up ahead of Super League’s State of Mind round this weekend, which aims to improve the mental health, wellbeing and working life of rugby league players and communities.
There will be a marquee at the home game with Catalans on Sunday where the founders of State of Mind will raise awareness of their work helping players deal with change.
Mr Dixon, who had to hang up his boots last year, also advised players to have a back up plan in case of a career ending injury.
He said: “I think you have to plan for the future, that’s massive.
“It can be taken away from you so quickly, one minute you can be a professional rugby player, the next you’re not it happens that quickly.
“The injuries you can get in a contact sport, there are always going to be injuries and career threatening injuries as well and I think you have to plan for that future, you’ve got to get an education or some sort of qualification behind you because if you finish and you’ve not got something to fall back on, you’re going to be struggling.
“I had a week of downtime before I went back to work and I could feel myself getting into a bit of a mess really, a bit of depression hanging over me and what ifs and I’ll never play rugby anymore. All sorts of things go through your head, so if you have something you can fall back on then attack it straight away. I think that will bode well for people.”
He praised the Castleford Tigers and his family for supporting him once he got the news that he couldn’t play anymore, adding: “I’ve got a really good family network behind me. They backed me and my decision, obviously they want me to be safe and make the right call, and ultimately I think I did.
“And the club stood by me as well, they kept me on their insurance for a year after I retired just in case I had any complications with it and they looked after me in that respect, so I was looked after pretty well to be fair.”
For more see rugbyleague.stateofmindsport.org.