10 Jul 2019

Tackle The Tough Stuff: Matty English

Matty English is widely regarded as Super League’s best young forward talents and as part of the #TackleTheToughStuff campaign, he’s opened up about what it was like to lose one of his team mates. 

“It was one of the toughest moments of my life, to witness a friend lose his life right in front of my eyes was something I’ll never forget.

“I was just an academy kid playing the game because I loved it, so to have something like that happen, it really made me question if I wanted to continue.

“I think it took me over two years to really speak to my Mum and Dad about it, I broke down and said, ‘I’m not right here’,” admitted the England Knights international. 

Recognising that English needed help, on the advice of his Mum, he reached out to Steve Hardisty, Huddersfield Giants’ player welfare manager. 

English said: “My mum told me I had to get in touch with Steve Hardisty, she rang the phone for me, and Steve was outstanding. 

“I cannot fault Steve for how he handled it, we were on the phone for nearly two hours, and just had a big chat about it, he put me onto counselling, which I don’t regret whatsoever.

English was part of the same academy side that current first team players, Darnell McIntosh and Sam Wood were involved in, and he admitted ‘we felt like we needed to take on responsibility’. 

The #TackleTheToughStuff campaign emphasises the importance of being able to talk about mental health and wellbeing, for players, fans and families to know ‘it’s ok to not be ok’. 

“We feel we’re supposed to be the big tough ones, and especially in our industry we’re meant to be these big rugby lads that run into brick walls for a living. 

“We do have emotions, and we are human beings that do feel every emotion under the sun. 

“I think that’s what the message needs to be, we all have emotions and we are all just human beings,” he admitted.

English has been likened to James Graham, signed a contract with Huddersfield Giants until 2022 and he has stressed the importance of Super League leading sports in mental health campaigns. 

“I really hope other sports dig into it because we won’t be the only sport that has players struggling mentally.

“I feel like it’s brave from Super League to have this form of vulnerability amongst the players, but I feel like it is something that has needed and should be spoken about,” said English. 

If there’s any advice to give, English’s advice would be to ‘speak out and take that first step’, although it could be the hardest conversation, it’s about time we all #TackleTheToughStuff. 

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