Greg Inglis speaks to the media after he was charged with drink driving. Picture: Matt King
Greg Inglis speaks to the media after he was charged with drink driving. Picture: Matt King

Inside Greg Inglis’ secret battle with alcohol, depression

IT WAS  a Magic Round for rugby league but the disappearing act of a rugby league legend sent concerned shockwaves through the game. Read more about Greg Inglis' secret battle.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal NRL superstar Greg Inglis went missing for three days - believed to be drinking heavily - during the special round of matches in Brisbane last week.

Inglis has now been admitted to a Sydney rehabilitation clinic where he will be treated for alcohol and depression issues. The initial signs indicating Inglis was struggling came during Magic Round.

He arrived in Brisbane - as a South Sydney ambassador - on the Thursday night and worked for the club on Friday.

But Inglis then disappeared from Friday night until Monday evening, causing enormous distress to South Sydney and NRL officials.

 

Greg Inglis on a stairwell in the moments before announcing his retirement. Picture: Brett Costello
Greg Inglis on a stairwell in the moments before announcing his retirement. Picture: Brett Costello

 

The Daily Telegraph understands Inglis - who retired from rugby league on April 15 - was virtually uncontactable while in Brisbane. His erratic behaviour led South Sydney officials to suggest a stint in rehab - and Inglis agreed.

It is understood Inglis will remain a patient at the undisclosed clinic for at least a month before his progress will be reviewed.

Inglis will remain in isolation for the first two weeks with no contact to the outside world and no mobile phones. After a fortnight, Inglis will be permitted to nominate hand-picked visitors.

It is understood Inglis is on medication which doesn't work well with alcohol.

Inglis' discipline was exemplary for the first few weeks into retirement but he has since lapsed. He has not shown up to work on occasions with employers Souths and the NRL.

 

Greg Inglis with son Nate and daughter Quinn at his farewell to the fans. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Greg Inglis with son Nate and daughter Quinn at his farewell to the fans. Picture: Phil Hillyard

The NRL and Souths are aware Inglis has been struggling with life post-football. He is said to be depressed and fragile. Insiders say Inglis has been drinking heavily with friends in Sydney and Macksville on the NSW north coast.

"I've been aware of some of the issues Greg has been facing," said NRL chief executive, Todd Greenberg. "He has a lot of support both from South Sydney as well as the NRL and the broader game.

"There are a lot of people ready to help him through any challenges he's facing.

"It's important to reiterate that asking for help is a sign of strength and we must break that stigma around mental health. People like Greg and others in our game show enormous courage to do exactly that."

Inglis also attracted staunch support last night from the RLPA.

"Greg has been a champion of our game, but like all athletes, is a person first and not immune to the challenges within society," said RLPA chief executive, Ian Prendergast.

"Challenges such as this highlight the importance of continuing to invest in the holistic support of all players - both during and after their careers.

 

“A champion of the game”: Todd Greenberg praised Inglis for seeking help. Picture: Darren England
“A champion of the game”: Todd Greenberg praised Inglis for seeking help. Picture: Darren England

"Transitioning out of professional sport is difficult for all athletes. It's pleasing that Greg is getting the immediate help he needs.

"We will continue to keep in contact with those around Greg to assist with his ongoing wellbeing support. The RLPA wishes Greg all the best during this difficult time."

The Daily Telegraph exclusively broke Inglis' rehab plight online Friday morning.

Soon after, Souths issued a media statement which read: "Rabbitohs and Souths Cares ambassador Greg Inglis has entered a facility to undergo treatment to assist with and support his mental health.

"On behalf of Greg and his family, we ask the media and the public to respect their privacy. No further comment will be made by the Rabbitohs, Greg, his management or his family at this time."

Inglis was handed an 18-month good behaviour bond for drink driving in NSW last year. He was stripped of the Kangaroos' captaincy and suspended for two Tests matches.

It was revealed in March that Inglis and his wife, Sally Robinson, had split. His Coogee home, worth $2.6m, is now for sale.

 

NRL players are human, like the rest of us

By Phil Rothfield

Analysis

THERE were fears for Greg Inglis' personal welfare from the moment he walked out on the South Sydney Rabbitohs for an early retirement.

That he would turn down $1.5 million in contract earnings raised eyebrows.

NRL players are as tough and tenacious as they come.

But they are human and can be beaten and broken by depression and the demons of mental health like the rest of us.

 

South Sydney Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis just before announcing his retirement. Picture: Dean Lewins
South Sydney Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis just before announcing his retirement. Picture: Dean Lewins

It has been the game's worst kept secret that Inglis has been off the rails since he quit.

Out of respect for his mental health issues it was never reported.

The Rabbitohs have now confirmed he is undergoing specialist treatment in a rehab facility. This is a sad but good news story in that he is finally getting help.

Yet questions need to be asked about what led to this situation.

Previous NRL welfare cases have probably been handled with more care.

When Souths coach Wayne Bennett was in charge at the Newcastle Knights Darius Boyd was admitted to rehab. He remained on the payroll for months. There was no pressure on him to make a call on his future.

 

His health and wellbeing was more important that the salary cap. At Souths Inglis took a week's leave then returned to Redfern to announce his retirement. In hindsight a stint in rehab might have been a smarter call.

Inglis' wife and children now live in Brisbane. He has a lovely partner who works for the NRL but life off the field has been a difficult adjustment.

Too much grog, too much spare time. The strict routine and discipline from his playing career are no longer there.

 

TIMELINE

2005: An 18 year old Inglis makes his debut for the Melbourne Storm. He goes on to be named Dally M Rookie of the year.

2006: Inglis is controversially handed his first State of Origin jersey for Queensland.

2007: Wins Clive Churchill medal in a two-try grand final performance to help the Storm thump Manly 34-8.

Greg Inglis was named captain of the Australian team while he was in Dubbo for the Koori Knockout. Picture: Darkeye Photography
Greg Inglis was named captain of the Australian team while he was in Dubbo for the Koori Knockout. Picture: Darkeye Photography

08: Named Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year and Rep Player of the year.

2009: Wins the Dally M Representative Player of the Year as well. Plays a part in another Storm premiership.

2010: Is released from the Storm in the wake of Melbourne's massive five-year salary cap breach which led to the club being stripped of its 2007 and 2009 premierships. Set to sign with the Broncos, the star joins South Sydney instead.

2012: Inglis becomes State of Origin's highest try scorer with 13 tries.

2013: Takes out Dally M Fullback of the Year and the Provan-Summons Medal.

2014: In a powerhouse season, Inglis helps South Sydney snare the club's first premiership in 43 years

2016: Appointed Indigenous All Stars captain and signs a deal to stay with the Rabbitohs through until 2020.

2 017: Suffers an ACL injury in round one which rules out his entire season. Later reveals his struggles with mental health and battles with depression.

2018: Returns to steer the Rabbitohs to third on the ladder and is named Queensland captain. On the day that he is named Australian captain he is caught drink driving and speeding on his way back from the Koori Knockout football tournament. He loses the Kangaroos captaincy.

2019: Announces his plans to retire from rep footy in 2019 and from the NRL at the end of the 2020 season.

May 10, 2019: Inglis is a South Sydney ambassador for Magic Round in Brisbane than disappears for three nights

May 24, 2019: South Sydney reveal Inglis has entered a rehabilitation facility

 

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.



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