Crabtree – Mental fitness just as important as physical

Huddersfield prop Eorl Crabtree believes that young rugby league players need to be as attentive to their mental health as they are to their physical fitness.

He thinks that networks such as State of Mind mean that it is much more straightforward for young players to find help nowadays, though.

“I think it’s a massive thing in rugby league, and I think it’s a massive thing in all aspects of life,” he told State of Mind.

“It’s sometimes overlooked in the sport we play, which is a very masculine sport. It’s about putting your body on the line and not showing weakness.

“I think that’s also an issue, because these things do get overlooked. Players tend to keep quiet.

“It’s not just about what’s on the field, it’s off the field too. It can be anything, but it all contributes to your mental health and your state of mind.

“For me personally, I’ve been through a few trials and tribulations as a rugby player. I’ve had moments when I’ve been pretty down and managed to come through the other side.

“I just managed to find a way, but if I’d had a support network like we have now, I think it would have been a lot easier.”

Crabtree feels that youngsters within the game are often hit hard by pressure in the early stages of their career.

It is crucial that they realise as early as possible that mental health issues can affect their future careers.

If a player is mentally healthy, then their on-field performances will also improve.

“The massive issue for me is the young players coming through and trying to make the first team,” Crabtree added.

“They will be put under massive amounts of pressure, by their families, themselves, by the players around them, and their coaches.

“Now if they get themselves in this position, with a downward spiral, which it is when you start having all these feelings of negativity and start getting into a bad place, then a lot of times they just try and hide it to get through it.

“That’s the total wrong way.

“This is when you need to reach out, especially for young players. 

“The best opportunity to improve as a player is to have the right mental health and state of mind.

“These networks are in place to help you become a better person, a happier, all-round person, but it will also make you a better player.

“So it’s a case of not hiding from it, but actually accepting it and trying to move on from it.”

State of Mind takes over Super League in Round 25 for the games on the weekend of August 28-31. Look out for volunteers providing information on mental health at all grounds across the weekend.

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