Former clubs and coaches offer support to Jacques O’Neill after Love Island exit

Castleford Tigers have offered their support to former player Jacques O’Neill following his departure from the TV show Love Island.

The 23-year-old was released by the Tigers last month to take part but he left the reality show a week ago citing mental health issues.

O’Neill said when leaving the programme: “I’m not going to start faking things and act like I’m okay, when things inside aren’t actually okay.”

He has since said in an interview with The Irish Sun that he was “ready to break down” and that “doing Love Island was the worst decision of my life.”

O’Neill returned home last Tuesday night and visited Castleford training the following morning to see his former team-mates.

He also spoke to the club’s welfare officer, who has offered further support.

Tigers coach Lee Radford said a possible return to the club, which has the first option to re-sign O’Neill, was “a conversation for further down the line” with support the first priority.

“The game does a good job in that respect; every club has their own welfare officer,” said Radford.

“Like in every walk of life there are obstacles in front of you unfortunately. Making sure people are around you, whether that’s family or at your club, to help you deal with that is pretty important.”

Radford’s predecessor Daryl Powell, who gave O’Neill all 29 of his first-team appearances for Castleford, hopes he is able and willing to resume a career in the game in future.

“I’d like to see him achieve his potential as a Rugby League player,” said Powell.

“I actually bumped into him at an engagement party just before he went in. I said to him ‘it’s not all about money Jacques’. He said ‘no, it’s not all about rugby either’. Fair enough!

“But he’s just trying to look after his future and I understand that.

“If he could get back into Rugby League and achieve his potential, he’s a Super League player and a good one.

“I’d just like to wish him all the best and I hope whatever he does, he does well. He’s a likeable kid.”

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.