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Thread: Western Force and Melbourne Rebels players seek psychological help as plans to cut te

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    Western Force and Melbourne Rebels players seek psychological help as plans to cut te

    Western Force and Melbourne Rebels players seek psychological help as plans to cut team take toll

    BRENDAN CANNON, The Daily Telegraph
    an hour ago

    Subscriber only

    I AM appalled by the treatment of the ARU towards its great asset — its people.

    Having announced the plan to axe the Western Force or Melbourne Rebels, the ARU’s lack of additional funding and resources for psychological support to people detrimentally affected by this decision is inexcusable and astounding.
    ARU officials seemed totally unprepared that two strong rugby franchises would go down swinging. They thought they’d just roll over and die.
    Their ignorance of the ramifications of this situation has led them to truly underestimate its ongoing impact.

    The Western Force players have been playing with an axe hanging over the franchise. Picture: AAP

    You only know what you know and they have never been in this situation before, so have utterly misjudged the level of support required to each state affected.
    In a state of flux, the ARU should have shown some empathy to these franchises and offered additional support and people who are better equipped to deal with the trauma of this situation.
    The ARU has tried to make a corporate decision in the best interests of the game, yet failed to properly gauge the human cost.
    This became truly apparent to me when I ran into Force veteran Matt Hodgson last week.
    He told me it has been the most challenging year of his professional rugby career.
    “In a normal season, as soon as you step off the field or leave training you can get away from rugby, whereas this year the darkness hasn’t allowed us any escape,” Hodgson told me.

    Force veteran Matt Hodgson says this has been the most challenging season of his career. Picture: AAP“

    Fans stop you on the street and want to know what is happening, thinking you’ve got answers.
    “Then you go home to your wives and girlfriends, they’ve read things in the paper and want to know what’s going on, ‘Do we have to move?’
    “The negativity and uncertainty has drained the enjoyment from the game.”
    Players and staff can’t sign new tenancy agreements, some had wanted to take educational courses but have been told they can’t complete them remotely.
    Their partners can’t tell employers if they’ll be at work beyond the next two months, but at the same time can’t send out job applications without knowing if they’ll have to move and where.
    Those with children dread the moment they may have to tell them they must leave their friends behind and move to new cities and schools.
    Some are looking after elderly parents who cannot be moved.
    It is 24/7 for these guys because there is no clear path forward.
    There are no answers to the questions being asked.

    Melbourne Rebels are feeling the pressure says Morgan Turinui. Picture: George Salpigtidis

    What also caught my attention were the comments made by Melbourne’s assistant coach Morgan Turinui a couple of weeks ago.
    He said: “How the ARU is handling it is an absolute disgrace. We have genuine issues and worries with our players and we’ve been pretty focused that their wellbeing is paramount and this has made that situation really hard for our guys.
    “The ARU are putting them in a situation that puts them under extreme stress. It’s not acceptable.”
    I’ve known Morgan for a long time and he is not prone to make audacious or exaggerated claims — quite the opposite in fact.
    For him to make such a strongly worded statement rings alarm bells about what the Rebels have been forced to endure.

    Morgan Turinui has delivered a pointed message to the ARU. Picture: Getty Images

    I made some calls and discovered the club employs one part-time psychologist who is supposed to help with high performance, but instead has been overwhelmed by demands from senior squad members to deal with this crisis.
    I checked with my contacts at the Force. They have one psychologist who wasn’t required once last year. This year, there has been a massive increase in players attending sessions.
    More than half the Force squad has consulted this psychologist in the past two months.
    But senior players like Hodgson are also becoming de facto psychologists to teammates struggling for answers.
    A leading psychologist outlined to me what chronic stress is and how it can affect all areas of your life including anxiety levels, sleeping patterns, and in turn the ability of your muscles to recover from training.

    PODCAST: Iain Payten and Jamie Pandaram break down the Wallabies’ squad for June and talk about why the Brumbies are finals bound in Super Rugby.

    Chronic stress would seriously jeopardise the capacity of each of these athletes to perform at their optimum level on a daily basis,” they said.
    These men are under serious pressure to perform, yet can’t get mentally and physically prepared to play at their peak. If they lose more games and pressure mounts. It is a vicious cycle.
    “The ARU have only looked at the situation through their own lens and have failed to truly appreciate the ramifications of what each proposed decision would have,” RUPA boss Ross Xenos said.
    The ARU and World Rugby have been trumpeting they’re all about player welfare.
    From what I can see, it is just a slogan with no substance.

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    Someone needs to make a referral to the OH&S regulator!

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    Canno is a scholar and gentleman.

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