Terry O’Connor today tells about his feelings after hearing about Terry Newton’s death as the first State of Mind Round 25 fixture tonight takes place at the Halliwell Jones where the news broke about Terry Newton’s death
Tez and Tez 1

Could you tell us how you knew Terry Newton (Tez)?

Terry O’Connor “He was one of my best friends. I’d played with him at Wigan and Great Britain and played against him at Leeds.”

Could you describe Tez for people that didn’t know him?

“On the pitch one of the toughest lads you would meet. Off the pitch a gent who would go out of his way to help his mates. He always had time for people he met, sometimes he was more nervous talking to people in the street than playing in a big game.”

How did you find out about Tez’s death?

“I was working for Sky at the championship day at the HJ stadium. I had a missed call from a mate of mine but I didn’t call him back. Apparently rumours were all around the ground about what had happened but I still didn’t know. After the first game our boss took us to one side and said “this is part of my job that I hate. Terry was found dead at home a couple of hours ago. I will remember that day and conversation for the rest of my life.”

What was your reaction to the news and what impact did it have on you?

“I was heartbroken I couldn’t believe that my mate would do something like that. I think it hurt even more that he couldn’t ask me or any of his other close mates for help. Nothing surely could be that bad. He had a lovely wife and two beautiful girls. I’m convinced if he could see the devastation that he’d left behind he wouldn’t of done what he did.”

Had you seen or heard from Tez much before his death?

“I talked with him the day before, in fact we talked all the time. It’s only when I looked back at some of our last conversations that I thought “why couldn’t I see anything”

Do you think he was hiding his true feelings?

“I do yes. When I talked with him for the last time he was his usual self and busy organising a charity day at his pub. He was one hundred miles an hour at everything, always had something on.”

Do you believe he recognised that he needed to ask for help?

“I don’t think Terry would ever ask for help, I’m sure he would consider it a sign of weakness. That’s what I don’t get. Tez played in a team and was apart of a team that helped each other. When you train and play every week you need the help of your friends to succeed.”

Has your attitude to mental health and dealing with emotion changed at all since Terry’s death?

“I genuinely don’t know why people hide or try to mask problems, 1 in 4 suffer from mental health problems is that a weakness? In my opinion no it’s not, just ask a mate for help “look I’m feeling a bit down would you mind if we talked about a few things”. What mate would ever say no! They would jump at the chance of helping you out.”
Terry o Trojan
Tell us about the birth of State of Mind. What does it mean to you and why is it important?

I am proud to be associated with the game and the people who are involved in the sport. The game is played by genuine people and supported by fans that all want to live in caring communities. I think RL gives people and children hope, hope of achieving both on and off the pitch. The kids who play the gams from a young age are taught valuable lessons that will help throughout their life, Hardworking, respect, honesty, discipline, problem solving, working under pressure, time keeping, I could go on. The game and its values are 2nd to nothing else! The game is tough and played by gents, mostly.”

And finally, what does it mean to have Round 25 this season as the State of Mind Round?

It means so much to see our tough heroes play the game and say “look at us we’d ask for help”. I was in the gym this week and run into a fellow professional who told me he’d tried to end his life in March. He now talks openly to people and talks about his illness, and because of his openness he says it helps. His problems are worse now than back earlier in the year, but because he is open he can cope with things better.

The State of Mind Round 25 is supported by every player, coach and administrator in the game. If they can talk openly about problems they have had in the past, or even if they are aware of different feelings they may have in the future State of Mind R9ound 25 has done its job. Nobody is immune from mental health problems, it can happen to anyone it’s how you deal with it. What I have learnt over the years is you need to talk.”

If one thing comes out of Terry’s death I’d like to think he has saved others.

If you want to support State of Mind Round 25 get to a fixture near you this weekend in Warrington, Leeds, Hull, London, Wakefield or Castleford and Perpignan. Round 25 will be ours!