State of Mind: Curtis Naughton

Change is something that Hull FC winger Curtis Naughton has had to deal with a lot during the early years of his rugby league career.

With already three clubs on his CV at the age of just 21, including a spell with the Sydney Roosters in Australia, it is fair to say that Naughton is well travelled.

Joining a new club brings its own challenges, that include entering a new dressing full of teammates you barely have a relationship with, and the 21-year old admits it can be a daunting experience.

“It’s nerve racking for sure but it gets easier with time,” he said.

“In rugby league there is always someone who you used to play with or know somehow so you attach yourself to them for a few days but after that it’s all good.”

For a lot of players, including Naughton himself, a move down under is the ultimate goal, but the winger insists the move affects players more than they probably let on.

“I must admit I really did struggle with leaving my family at first,” he said.

“I contemplated coming back straight away as I had everything done for me up until when I left.

“My family didn’t think I would last long at all, a couple of months at the most, but I knew it would be good for me for the future so I put that aside and stuck at it.

“I lived with two blokes similar to my age which really helped myself when I was missing family.

“They would keep me occupied doing stuff like surfing and cliff jumping, all adrenaline activities my parents didn’t approve of but I loved every minute of it.

“I had a lot of support over there with the people at the club too, with my agent inviting me up to the Central Coast to celebrate Christmas with his family.”

Naughton has since made the move back to England to play for high-flying Hull FC, and believes the State of Mind campaign is a brilliant concept that should be encouraged throughout the sport that can offer support to players in situations such as his own in future years.

“I believe strongly that it has a big part to play in rugby league,” he said.

“This is because both young and old players can suffer from a lot of problems just like everybody else, whether it’s moving to a new club as a youngster or an older player with finishing up not having a clue what to do after retiring.

“It can really affect us in many ways but knowing the support is there is great if people need it.”

Despite the work of the State of Mind campaign in recent years, Naughton believes there is still a stigma in the sport surrounding players speaking their mind in a time of need, and it is a situation in which he hopes can be changed in the future.

“I personally feel that the stigma is still in league where we have to be the big man and nothing ever affects us,” the winger said.

“But it is daunting to go to the coach, the captain or even the older players and honestly tell them how you’re feeling incase you would get criticised for it.

“It might not be the case if you were to speak to the elder players in a squad environment, but as a young player looking up to the legends of your club you never see them upset, so you tend to just stay away and keep the feelings bottled up, which may effect your week of training or even future in the game.

“When big things happen in players lives it’s hard to separate them from rugby, and it does affect how you play.

“We are all human in the end and does affect us as it would anyone else.”

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