Rugby great Leon Pryce has revealed he suffered a loss of identity when his career ended and won’t allow his son to make the same “stupid mistakes” as he embarks on his own professional career.
Pryce, a former Great Britain international, won every domestic club honour in a glittering career with Bradford, St Helens, Hull FC and Catalan Dragons, but struggled to find his next path after retirement.
Opening up to host George Riley on the official SOM Talks podcast from leading mental fitness charity State of Mind Sport, Pryce reveals how hard he has had to work to get his life back on track.
“You assume that because you have got a profile in the game, you’re always going to be able to pick up work around the game. That’s my own fault, I have nobody else to blame.
“You think you’re this superstar, people want to ring you up and be your friend and you kind of assume and think it can’t be that hard surely. It was such a wrong attitude to have and I will never make that mistake again, I will never allow William to make that mistake. It’s something I’m already working on with him now, so that he won’t be in the same position that I put myself in.”
18-year-old Will Pryce is just beginning his journey, and scored a try on his full Super League debut for Huddersfield against Wigan.
Leon says Will has a wise head on his shoulders and has learned lessons from seeing firsthand his dad’s struggles.
“I went from training in and around 30 lads every day for 20 years, to being sat on my own in the house watching Jeremy Kyle. That sent me into a dark hole.
“I was drinking too much. Where I’d go and play rugby I’d instead pick up a bottle of wine and go home and feel sorry for myself.
“Playing rugby gave me an escape and massive coping mechanisms, and when you cut that out I didn’t really know where to turn.”
Pryce accepted help from Sporting Chance and set about getting his life back on track.
“It’s been a long journey to get to where I am at the moment. It’s an inside job and I’ve had to really work at it.
“Even though I’m in a really good place now and enjoy my job, I still have a massive void that probably won’t ever be filled, through not being involved in rugby. It is a game where people can drop out very easily. There isn’t much work about. It’s not like football where there’s a million jobs.”
SOM Talks is the official podcast from award-winning mental health and fitness charity State of Mind Sport.
Hosted by George Riley, each episode explores themes in line with the unprecedented and unique challenges that we are individually and collectively facing right now.
The inaugural series explores Transitions – the mental health challenges associated with major life and career changes.
SOM Talks is available on all major podcast platforms