Shaun Lunt has called on players to drop the superhero image and seek help for their issues.
The recent drug cases of Zak Hardaker and Thomas Minns, both of whom Lunt has played alongside during his career, have exposed personal issues that resulted in both taking cocaine.
In the past, people have suggested that players feel a need to live up to their ‘macho’ persona, and ignore any mental issues.
There has been a game-wide push to address those issues in recent years, with all clubs now employing player-welfare managers, while initiatives such as RL Cares are also assisting players.
However, Lunt believes players still need to help themselves.
“Whatever problems you have in your life, you need to seek help for them,” he said.
“People look at us as rugby players and think we’re superhuman, but we’re not. We’re not bulletproof and we have emotions. Everyone is different and deals with problems differently. It’s hard to say how you go about doing it.
“It’s really sad that some lads go out and feel that’s how they have to escape their problems and I feel sorry for them. People are quick to judge, but they don’t understand what they go through in their personal lives.
“If you’ve got problems in your personal life you need to deal with them and seek the right advice. Don’t be embarrassed to say you’ve got problems.
“There was many a time when I was younger that I had problems, not with drugs but with coping. I remember when I was at Huddersfield, I’d just signed a new three-year deal at Huddersfield, I’d just played for England and my missus had just had our first boy.
“I had all these things come at once and all of a sudden I’d gone from being a single lad with no pressure or problems to being a dad, playing for England and having all of this pressure while supporting a family. There are so many bits of the jigsaw.
“For me, Sue Thompson, our welfare manager, is absolutely fantastic and the club has been as well. I can’t speak highly enough of them and I think players at other clubs would say similar things.”
The use of drugs within the game has also been questioned, with a string of Super League players testing positive for social drugs.
Rangi Chase and Adam Walker have also been banned in the last twelve months, but Lunt believes the issue is far wider than in Rugby League.
“I just think that it’s in all sports and all walks of life,” he said.
“We’re living in a world where drugs are everywhere. You go on a night out and there are so many people taking drugs that it’s untrue.
“I remember when I went out as a kid and you’d know the odd person taking drugs, but now it seems that everyone is taking them. I’m not just talking about rugby players, I’m talking about everyone in general. It’s a culture thing.”