Ryan Brierley has revealed he required professional help after entering a “dark place” during his bust-up with Leigh.
The in demand halfback signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with Huddersfield Giants on Sunday, realising a lifelong dream of his by becoming a Super League player in the process.
However, the events surrounding his move to the Giants came after a hellacious period in which the 24-year-old was forced to seek advice for his state of mind.
Brierley, who enjoyed a special relationship with fans of Leigh Centurions during his successful spell with the club, was forced to leave Twitter and rely on the support of the RFL due to the pressures and accusations being made against him.
He was suspended by the Championship club after the revelation that he had activated a clause in his contract became public knowledge, with Leigh claiming he had told their head coach Neil Jukes that he had been offered a lucrative deal by Bradford Bulls.
That allegation, along with the modern-day pressures of social media, sent Brierley close to breaking point, which prompted him to take action.
In an exclusive chat with TotalRL, Brierley revealed the amount of strain the whole saga had on his life.
“I’m not afraid to say I’ve had help,” he said.
“I can’t put it into words the amount of stress I was under. It’s been the worst time in my career and probably as a person as well. It’s affected me on the mental side of things and I’ve had to speak to a lot of people and get a lot of professional help. I’d like to put on record how much support I’ve had from The RFL, who have been fully supportive of my situation from the welfare side of things. Also, to former teammates at Leigh and from people in higher places at Super League clubs wishing me the best. It’s nice being in an environment where you know people are going to help. I can’t really fault anyone.
“I’m not going to lie, it has led to some sleepless nights and some tears along the way. From outside influences on social media, the amount of lies that were made was really hard to deal with from my point of view and my family’s point of view.
“More than anyone I’d like to thank my agent. I know a lot of agents don’t get mentioned, especially Craig (Harrison). When I came to Craig in the first place I wanted to be a Super League player and he’s done that for me. He’s put a lot of hours into making me happy, because I was in a dark place two or three weeks ago and a lot of my family was worried for me. Thankfully I’ve come out the other side.”
Brierley can now focus on what he does best, playing Rugby League. Having been linked with almost every club in Super League over the last 12 months, the scrum-half has shed light on the amount of interest there has been in his services.
“I won’t insult people’s intelligence, there has been discussions, but that will be kept between me and the clubs in question.
“The speculation stops now. I’m glad I can put an end to it and focus on playing Rugby League. There will be a lot of people out there that will wonder if I can make the step up, but it’s a thing I’m looking forward to. It’s just nice to be part of a Super League organisation. I’m going to give it my best shot.”
With six clubs thought to have been in the race to sign him in the last month, why Huddersfield?
“As soon as I met Paul Anderson I knew where I wanted to be.
“He sold the club greatly to me and there were no issues around the club. The duty of care from Huddersfield towards me, as a person before a player, stood out for me. I’d like to thank Ken Davy, Richard Thewlis, Paul Anderson and Kieron Purtill for making that happen because I can’t question their commitment to me as a person. That meant more to me than anything and the way they embraced my family was special. Everyone around the club was really welcoming. I’m quite an emotional and sensitive person at times and that was a great thing for me to be a part of.
“It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to play in the Super League and Huddersfield have given me the opportunity to fulfil that dream. My first job is to earn the respect of my fellow teammates, that’s my number one goal at the moment, along with impressing Paul Anderson as well. I want to get a good reputation as a hard working player within the club that is more than willing to learn and is excited to learn more than anything.
“I’m a Rugby League fan and I started playing to win the Super League trophy and at the Huddersfield Giants I believe I’m in the right place to do that.”
While his time in the red and white of Leigh might be over, Brierley spoke fondly of his former club, and revealed that he felt it was right to ensure the club received a transfer fee for him after their service to his development, but admitted there were certain things at the club that went again his beliefs.
“The Leigh fans know I love them to pieces and I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me and my family. I never planned for it to end this way. I’m sure the Leigh fans know they have a special place in my heart no matter what happens and I’m looking forward to going back and watching them.
“I think it was only right for the development they’ve put into me as a player and a person that Leigh got something back. I could have gone as a free agent at the end of the year, but I wouldn’t have been comfortable with that, I felt they deserved to get a fee for the commitment they’ve shown to me and that has shown by Huddersfield being willing to pay a transfer fee for me.”
Brierley also revealed he met up with former head coach Jukes on Sunday to settle their differences after their relationship turned sour following the allegations made against Brierley.
“I met Neil Jukes and we apologised for the way things ended up and hoped we could move on with no grudges. We’ve all got to get on with our jobs now because we’re all professionals and in no way can everyone question his or the club’s integrity.
“My thanks go to Paul Rowley, Neil, Simon Finnigan and Paul Anderson for their help. I’d also like to thank Derek Beaumont for allowing me to leave and doing so in a professional manner. He also deserves credit for the protection he has given me over the years. “