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John Sutton opens up on struggles in life after football, South Sydney Rabbitohs

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Former South Sydney premiership winning captain John Sutton has opened up on his struggles to transition to life after his 16-year rugby league career with the Rabbitohs.

Sutton experienced the massive highs rugby league has to offer, including Souths’ drought-breaking title win in 2014, before retiring in 2019 after scoring 61 tries in 336 games for his beloved red and myrtle.

Speaking on Andy Raymond’s podcast Unfiltered, Sutton revealed the challenges he has faced since hanging up the boots.

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“The last few years haven’t been great. I have suffered bad depression ever since retiring. And, obviously, drinking didn’t help that,” Sutton said on the podcast.

“I have been working on myself and the alcohol. I gave it up. I am staying off that. Every day that I stay sober is a good day.

“It’s something that I just don’t need in my life right now.

“The club has looked after me but I have struggled in the last few years transitioning out of football.


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Sutton lifts the 2014 premiership trophy after Souths’ win in the NRL Grand Final.Source: News Corp Australia

“A few months ago I went into rehab and have been trying to sort my life out. It was just so weird after football. I didn’t think I would struggle that much.

“But playing 16 years of rugby league, it was tough in that sense. It’s hard to speak up. Players don’t want to. Men don’t want to. It’s very hard to do for some people, to open up.

“When I finished playing I didn’t want to talk about my problems until it got too bad and I was struggling.”

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John Sutton (left) in his role as a Souths’ trainer with former teammate Cody Walker.Source: AAP

Sutton is thankful for the support the Rabbitohs have given him after his playing career, but he believes there needs to be more done to help players transition to life after football.

“To be honest, I don’t think (support is adequate), especially for players transitioning out of football,” Sutton said. .

“It’s tough. It’s all I knew for 16 years.

“I have been grateful for Souths and I have a good job there but I think the NRL should do a lot more in that space where players are transitioning into the next phase of their life and career.

“There needs to be more help in that space.”

If you’re going through a hard time or suffering mentally, Lifeline’s 13 11 14 crisis support service is available 24/7.


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