State of Mind Interview: Sean O’Loughlin

Wigan’s Sean O’Loughlin feels that being in good shape mentally is vitally important to any rugby league player.

As well as helping with an individual’s life and general health, being mentally sharp can also improve on-field performance.

“It’s very important, both from a health and performance point of view,” O’Loughlin told State of Mind.

“Having a clear mind, not being stressed about things and having a clear focus is massively important for your game.

“It’s like being prepared fitness-wise and physically, the mental side of things is up there and as important as that.”

Staying mentally healthy can often come down to being able to speak to the right people when the pressure builds up, according to the Wigan star.

Being able to balance rugby with other things in life, such as time away or hobbies, is also vital to players in his view.

“The most important thing is the people around you being able to talk about things,” he added.

“But also another huge one is the players and staff at the club. You spend a lot of time with the players you work with, your colleagues, and your coaches.

“We now have people in a support role at the club too.

“It’s important that when you need to get something off your chest, that there’s a network to go through, like the welfare manager at the club.

“Having a chat with them is really important, too.

“Rugby league’s a tough job, but it’s not just the time you spend at the club.

“You go away from that, and you’re thinking about your game, you’re thinking about whether you’ve played well, about your form and how to get better, all the time you’re away from the club.

“So having time with your family, just going out and doing something, hobbies, other forms of work, being able to do that is good.

“Constantly thinking about rugby becomes a bit of burden sometimes, so it’s good to go away and freshen up and come back the day after.

“Sometimes then the troubles you’ve had the day before don’t seem as bad when you’ve had a night’s sleep and you’ve had some time to think about things.”

O’Loughlin feels that any young player suffering with a psychological issue should take the important first step of telling someone about it.

Once they have done that, issues often begin to look a lot less clouded.

“I think the most important thing is to speak to people about it,” he said.

“Whether that’s someone at home, with your family, or another player or colleague, maybe a more senior player.

“Having someone who will lend you an ear is massive. You feel a lot better once you’ve spoken about it, and a problem doesn’t seem as bad.”

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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