Today, State of Mind Sport are proud to launch a new podcast series – SOM Talks. Hosted by George Riley, this first season explores the issue of Transitions with today’s first episode offering viewers and listeners an exclusive chat with the outgoing Warrington Wolves coach Lee Briers.
Rugby league legend Lee Briers has revealed his shock, fear and anger after learning that his 25-year association with Warrington will end this year.
Speaking for the first time since being told in April that this will be his final season at the club, the Wolves great has admitted he would be prepared to walk away from the sport, was “in a daze” when he found out, but thankful for the life-changing experiences that Warrington have afforded him.
“You don’t know for sure until you hear the words,” he said. “It was upsetting, I have a lot of emotional ties to the club.
“25 years is over half my life and all I have ever known is Warrington. The first stage was shock, dealing with the emotions of anxiety and worrying what is going to happen in the future.”
Assistant coaches Briers and Andrew Henderson are making way at the end of the season to allow incoming head coach Daryl Powell to build his own team.
And in an exclusive first interview since learning of the news, Briers has opened up on the anxiety, fear and excitement he is feeling at the biggest period of change in his life so far.
“The meeting last two minutes. I was in a daze, got out and took a couple of deep breaths. Rang my agent and family and moved forward with that.
“I’m an honest person so of course there was anger. I was losing my job. These emotions all run through you when something you don’t want to hear happens. That is life and part of disappointment, and life is all about how you come back from disappointments.
“Daryl Powell doesn’t owe me anything. He has a trusted team and I have no problem with that. It is part of the game. Further down the line I may have to do the same. It’s the nature of the beast but it is hard because of the time I’ve been with the club.”
In an emotional and honest discussion with host George Riley on the new SOM Talks podcast from mental health charity State of Mind Sport, Briers reveals his gratitude to Warrington for supporting the best years of his life, and how he has drawn strength from knowing mistakes made in his playing days have made him a better person today.
“You learn from each setback. Not just in sport but in life. I lost my mum six months ago and you learn from that emotion as well. It is important that you speak to people and let them know how you are feeling, people you trust will listen and will talk back without emotion and that is invaluable at times like this.
“It is about making sure you have the right people around you at the right time and that support network is key. There will be times when I take a massive dip because that is my character. But I’m on a good track at the moment.“
The three-times Challenge Cup winning captain also speaks honestly about his relationship with alcohol, revealing he has made huge lifestyle changes in discovering the benefits of sobriety at 42, having struggled with it at the height of his career.
“I always put the team first on the field. I probably didn’t put the team first as much as I should off the field. I realize that now, and can speak about it.
“I suppose it is like when you are school or someone says ‘you can’t’, I was always the one saying ‘I can’. I look back now and when I review what I used to be like, I used to drink mainly after we had got beat. It was to hide the emotion of disappointment. We didn’t win many back then so I used to drink a bit. When we won I got my high and was at peace, so didn’t have to get rid of that pain.
“With not drinking last year and then my mum passing away, that was fate. Had I been drinking with that pain from my mum passing away, I would have gone off the rails. One million per cent. But I didn’t. And I felt every emotion, I could think clear, and organized everything. I was in control. “
Briers says he has already held talks about his next career step but admits it may not be in rugby league.
“I’m content if I have to walk away from the game,” he says.
“Do I want to walk away? No, because I have a hell of a lot to offer. But rugby league is a small portion of my life.
“I don’t want to be in the spotlight, I just want to live a normal life and help people. I want to help people be the best they can. “
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.