The cyber bullying of Anthony Siebold after he left the Broncos exposed the dark side of rugby league and the Mackay Cutters tackled the risk by teaching their players to ask RU OK?
Seibold hired lawyers to investigate the viral rumours about his personal life and he said the “despicable and disgusting” posts spread on social media caused untold damage to players and families.
“You can’t just write anything you want on social media and think it’s OK, because if it is unacceptable in the street, how is it OK on a social media platform?” he said.
The former coach said there was a toll on those targeted by online bullying and people should consider the impact of what they shared on social media.
To build the under 18 squad’s mental resilience, the Mackay Cutters teamed up with the QRL and mental health organisation Alive to teach the players coping methods.
With social media coming at them 24/7, teenage hormones, and COVID-19 thrown into the mix, the Cutters jumped at the chance to support their younger players.
Under 18’s player Tyrese Parter said the squad learnt to speak and listen.
“It gave us an idea of how to control our mental toughness,” he said.
“It taught us to try and overcome what’s happened and keep moving forward in life.
“Always be on top of your mental health.”
Sharon Barnard from the Mackay Cutters said the players found it tough having their season cancelled.
“We needed to work out a coping mechanism for them to get through,” she said.
“They know they are going through the motions and having a down day.
“But when they are having more than a down day or two that is when they need to do something about it.
“The program was giving them some skills to recognise the signs to look out for.
“It encouraged them to communicate with their mates and get some help.”
Learning to say RU OK?
Ms Barnard said the boys’ demeanour had changed after the training and she had noticed them implementing the skills.
“I’ve noticed they are a lot happier, they are helping each other out,” she said.
“They are having conversations about it and asking ‘Are you OK?’ and they are not afraid to say they are not.
“It’s been really beneficial for them.”
Mr Parter said with the hard start to the year, it was good to have the skills to cope looking ahead.
“It’s still tough going through it now, but we all have to stick by each other,” he said.
“It’s great to always have piece of mind of what to do to help yourself and others around you out.”