Ahead of Hull’s Super League clash with London on Thursday – live on Sky Sports Arena – Black and Whites centre Josh Griffin has spoken from experience in urging his fellow players to speak out about mental health.
Griffin was badly affected by the sudden death of his father four years ago but worked his way through the tragedy thanks to the support network within the game.
The former Wakefield, Castleford and Salford threequarter is among a host of players promoting Super League’s Wellbeing Round, which starts when Hull host London Broncos at the KCOM Stadium on Thursday night.
Hull FC vs London Broncos
July 11, 2019, 7:00pm
“There is this persona that we’re big, tough human beings but we’ve all got that soft inside,” Griffin said. “Everyone has their mental problems, you never know what’s going on inside.
“I dealt with a lot of anger after my dad died and it got me in a little bit of trouble but thankfully, with the support I had around me, I managed to get through it before it got too late.”
Within days of his father’s death from a heart attack, Griffin, older brother Darrell and younger sibling George all decided to put their hands up to play together for the first time for Salford at the Magic Weekend in Newcastle.
However, it ended badly as the Red Devils went down 38-16 to Widnes at St James’ Park, with all three brothers making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
“It was our first game together so our dad would have been there,” Griffin recalled. “Looking back, it was probably too soon in terms of our mental state.
“I think Darrell got a red card, I got a yellow for having a bit of a scrap and our George got put on report.
“But we went through it together and used rugby as a way of escaping that.”
Griffin left Salford 18 months later to join Hull and was in the team that successfully defended the Challenge Cup at Wembley eight months later.
The Black and Whites are just 80 minutes away from another trip to Wembley and are also handily placed for a tilt at Old Trafford – but go into Thursday’s game on the back of successive defeats by Hull KR and St Helens.
“The last couple of weeks we’ve not been the same team that’s got us into third place,” Griffin admitted. “Our season has been built on hard work and doing the basics of the game right.
“The last two matches we’ve coughed up a lot of ball so this week we need to go back to what we’ve been doing well.
“We’re still in third place and we’re still in the Challenge Cup semi-final but Wigan are right on our heels and they’re probably the form team at the moment, so we’ve got to build some confidence from our next two games against London and Leeds going into the semi-final.”
The Broncos revived their hopes of avoiding relegation with three successive wins and, although back-to-back defeats at the hands of Castleford and Warrington have sent them tumbling back to the bottom of the table, Griffin says they remain a threat.
“We went down there and had a really tough game against them,” he said. “They’re a young side and they’re fit and enthusiastic and play with a lot of energy.
“They’re in a relegation battle as well so they’re going to come at us even more so we’ve got to match them and take our opportunities when we can.”
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