Former rugby league star turned actor Keith Mason has officially released the first ever rugby league comic, which features several high-profile names.
The first issue was released on Friday to coincide with Super League’s #TackleTheToughStuff campaign in the final Wellbeing Round of matches.
Rugby Blood aims to shed light on some of the mental problems faced by professional sportsmen. The story is loosely based on Mason’s own life. Since his retirement in 2013, he has experienced depression, debt and homelessness.
Rugby Blood Origins will feature Super League players such as Luther Burrell, Daryl Clark, Jake Connor, Konrad Hurrell, Jermaine McGillvary, Mark Percival and Jake Trueman.
Mason said: “I wanted to feature current and ex-players, not only to raise their profile, but to raise awareness about the real struggles athletes go through.
“I wanted to highlight to people that when one door closes in your life, you have to work hard, dedicate yourself and make the right sacrifices to open a new door.”
Prop Mason enjoyed a glittering rugby league career, having played for Wakefield, St Helens, Castleford and Huddersfield in Super League as well as Melbourne Storm in the NRL.
The 37-year-old represented Wales internationally, and has since enjoyed an acting career having featured in Peaky Blinders and A Hitman in London alongside his friend, Mickey Rourke.
After suffering with mental health issues previously, Mason was asked to go and speak to a former player, which planted the seed of Rugby Blood.
He added: “It started as a film script, written by myself and [scriptwriter, director] Ben Von Cronosbut but I didn’t want to stop at a film.
“I wanted it to be bigger and to have more of an impact.
“I decided to find an artist who could help me create the first ever rugby comic, so together with [comic artist] Paul Roper, we brought the story to life.
“I wanted to use real players to be able to connect with the audience and make the players stars.”
Rugby Blood is available to purchase via online retailers. To buy, click here.