Bulls vow to support Nkosi as he battles mental health

Winger granted extended leave from rugby

Athenkosi Tsotsi Sports Reporter
Winger had missed three weeks of training at Tshwane side.
Winger had missed three weeks of training at Tshwane side.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Blue Bulls Company CEO Edgar Rathbone says they have granted winger Sbu Nkosi a mental health break from rugby.

Nkosi was found unharmed on Monday after being reported missing on November 17.

Nkosi, 26, was located at his father's Emalahleni, Mpumalanga home and he opened the gates of his home to his boss, Rathbone, and they had a conversation for 40 minutes. The conversation revolved around Nkosi's mental health and the pressure that comes with being a rugby player.

When addressing the media on Tuesday morning at the Bulls home, Loftus Versfeld, Rathbone opened up about the state of the player.

“We have a player that is struggling with mental health,” said Rathbone.

“I looked a man in the eyes and I could see he was hurting. Our concern is for Sbu Nkosi, not the rugby player, but the person.

“Any mental health issue you have, you want to be helped. I got the sense he wants help and his father is helping him. He's Sbu Nkosi the son and that is the healing process. He's in a safe space currently, we will arrange help from our side and that could take time,” he said.

There's a growing concern that players are not supported mentally by their employers, Rathbone said more need to be done to the supported structure already provided.

“We are not trained for scenarios like this, what we needed to keep in mind were the player's reputation and his safety.

“Through MyPlayers, they do mental screenings for players and we are one of the unions that have a full-time physiologist. There is a support structure but we can do better.

Rathbone confirmed that Nkosi's contract won't be terminated and the consequences of being absent without leave will be shelved.

Nkosi's expected time of return to work is yet to be established as the franchise wants to focus on him getting his mental health back.

“It's difficult to put a timeline on it, we need to give him his space,” said Rathbone.

“Our goal is to get him on a rugby field feeling like the champion that he is. This is a wake-up call for rugby, this is a reality of professional sports. These are not machines, they are human,” he said. 

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