Warrington Wolves new signing Ryan Bailey has lifted the lid on his nightmare 2015 campaign, and revealed he suffered from bouts of depression after failing to adjust to life away from Leeds Rhinos.
In a candid, honest and revealing interview, Bailey admitted that the struggle of leaving his hometown club – the only side he’d played for – at the end of the 2014 season hit him hard, along with a niggling injury that had dogged him for two years.
But now, revitalised, properly diagnosed and playing under former Leeds coach Tony Smith again at Warrington, Bailey says he can look forward to 2016 with confidence after a disappointing 2015 campaign that saw him play for both Hull KR and Castleford. And he has revealed just how bad things got last season.
“I found it (leaving Leeds) a lot tougher than I first thought it would be,” Bailey, 32, said.
“They are my hometown team, I was born in Leeds and won everything during my 14 years at the club. I wanted a change and I wanted something new, but I rushed.
“Leaving Leeds was a big blow for me. I lost all my close friends and it’s taken me nearly two years to get over it. I got a bit of help with some counselling to get my head right, and I had a bit of depression. But I’m over that now. I can look forward now with optimism and end my career at Warrington on a high.
“Having to move house just hit me. It wasn’t ideal for a top-level player to have all that going on and it was very tough.
“It took a couple of months for me to realise how tough it was, but it all spiralled into depression. In that context this move couldn’t have come at a better time for me.”
Bailey will miss the opening weeks of the new season after being booked in for surgery this week following a mystery problem that has plagued him for a long time.
It was initially feared that he had suffered a serious problem with his Achilles tendon, but that is not the case. Instead he has been suffering from a muscular disorder in his heel.
“I’ve had this for just over two years now,” confirmed Bailey.
“I just thought it was a strain that flared up all the time and it really got me down. But now we know what it is I can crack on with my career once again.
“Little things that used to bug me don’t anymore. Last year is a motivation for me, but it was also a huge learning curve.”
Bailey is excited to get back to work with Smith at Warrington when he returns to full fitness and he insists he’s settled into life at the club after making the move from Yorkshire.
“We’ve been in Tenerife, had a good camp and I’ve met the team and settled in really well. There’s a good mix of youth and experience here and it seems like a great group to be part of. There’s no reason why we can’t push for trophies this year.
“Tony gets the best out of me; we’ve got a great relationship from the past and he’s a fair coach who really seems to get the best out of his players.
“I’ve settled in well at Warrington, I’m living with Tom Lineham and I thought I was strange until I met him.”
And Bailey is not worried about missing the early part of the season, insisting he’s still got lots to offer the game.
“I’ve got my confidence back now and I’m really excited about what lies ahead.
“Missing the first few weeks will be tough, but there was no guarantee I’d have got in the team. But when I do get in I don’t think I’ll be coming out of it.”