Matty Russell has revealed how an off-the-cuff comment during his time at Warrington left him feeling unable to seek support for problems with alcohol and gambling.
In a frank and honest discussion on the latest Love Rugby League Podcast, the Scotland winger has opened up for the first time on personal demons that he feels have contributed to him selling himself short in his professional rugby career.
The 29-year old was with the Wolves from 2014 and 2018, a period that he admits saw him lack professionalism and enjoy the nightlife more than any training session.
And it was a moment in 2016, a season in which Warrington made both the Grand Final and Challenge Cup final, when Russell recalls feeling at his lowest.
He had spent the previous season on painkillers as he recovered from ankle surgery; and found problems with low mood and gambling.
“In 2016 I got real bad and opened up to one of the coaches and a few lads were in the room,” Russell told Love Rugby League.
“I got really upset and said my gambling had got really bad. It was only two days later that we played Saints, and I was having a really good year. Saints kicked a ball, I should have gone for it on the full but let it bounce and they scored. The coach at the time said during the video review in front of the squad ‘oh Matty, we all know you love a gamble, but why are you gambling on that?’
“I thought ‘for f**k sake’ and it shut me down from opening up to someone. That completely stopped me opening up and I hid it all away behind drink.
“It affected me” – Matty Russell
“It was only when Steve Price came in (the following year) and tested me. That is when I hit the worst. A player just came in and said “Matty needs help, he’s not right”.
“My mate put me on to someone and that was the start of the process of recovery. I’m not perfect, I have hiccups and have had messes after this, but that was the rock bottom.”