Former England U20 star Mark Jennings has spoken openly about how addiction to drugs and alcohol saw life spiral into depression.
The ex-Sale Sharks centre was arrested in February last year for assaulting a police officer.
It came during a drink fuelled rampage after the 27-year-old discovered he was conceived when his birth mum was raped in Namibia.
Three days later Jennings was placed on ‘sabbatical’ by the Sharks, which marked the end of his professional rugby career.
“As long as I can remember I just bottled up every single emotion I had. The different addictions, abuse, alcohol, drugs, painkillers. Since a young age, I have never been in contact with my own emotions because it was always masked up for so long,” he revealed to Rugby Pass.
“For such a long time I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know what my likes were, didn’t know what my dislikes were. I literally just masked everything up from a young age.
“When I was playing in the 80 minutes on the field my mind would be engaged and when I was training with the lads my mind would be engaged, but going home after that I would have such a crash, such a low and that is when I would get depressed again, thinking about my childhood and everything in the past.
“When I was 19 and playing the last Six Nations game for England U20s, I tore my bicep. That was the first significant injury and I was out for seven, eight months. The severity of the situation sank in then because I knew I wasn’t going to cope.
“I already had these issues around alcohol and drugs. The times when I was playing I had managed to cool it down a little bit because I was, ‘Oh, I have got a game on Friday or Saturday, I need to try my hardest to stay off the drugs, stay off the alcohol’. But when I was out as long as that and it was just me in the gym three, four times a week things got a lot worse.”
Ranked! The 5 worst Premiership signings of the 2019/20 season
Oh dear, oh dear. However much we will them on, sometimes deals just don’t turn out the way we hoped – or anything like it, as these disasters demonstrate.
5. Niki Goneva (Harlequins)
Described by the club as ‘a real coup’ and ‘deadly finisher’ when the winger joined from relegated Newcastle Falcons last summer. However, it appears that the 35-year-old, who has been a prolific try scorer throughout his career, is finally starting to slow down. He didn’t cross the whitewash in his six Premiership outings for Quins this season.