Former NRL player admits fighting demons early in career
FORMER Broncos winger Scott Minto knows too well the pain of tackling tough opponents - on and off the field.
Scott openly admits that when he debuted in the National Rugby League competition in 2002 with the Brisbane Broncos, he spent the first two years fighting his personal, injury-related and confidence demons.
The 34-year-old Rockhampton-born player owes a debt to former Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett, who loaned his shoulder to Scott while he was trying to tackle his problems.
Bennett was among a number of motivators who guided Scott through two years of turbulence, while playing for the Broncos, before things became smooth sailing for the former winger.
Scott spoke out yesterday after a Rugby League Week annual players' poll showed 20% of players suffered from depression - and as the league world comes to terms with the loss of young star Alex Elisala.
The 20-year-old died on Monday after an incident in Mackay.
Scott agreed to share his experiences to try to help others who might be dealing with the same issues.
His own on-field dilemmas stemmed from problems with fitness, as a result of injury, which in turn led to self-doubt and ongoing emotional stress to perform.
Although he didn't go too deeply into his personal issues at the time, Scott wanted to drum into young players suffering from depression that there was always someone who they could turn to.
"There is a 'macho' environment in rugby league and a lot of players don't like to let out their emotions too much," Scott said.
"There were times where I had issues keeping up with the pace of the team, so I thought I was lacking fitness.
"Most NRL squads have team psychologists who may be able to help out a great deal."
Since 1986, Rugby League Week has polled 100 players each year.
This year's findings were both revealing and concerning.
A total of 82% said they would take, without question, any supplement their club gave them, despite the lingering ASADA investigation.
A total of 76% said they knew of a player who had dealt with depression.
The poll also revealed players were reluctant to talk about their issues.
Where to go for help