Rugby League legend Paul (The Chief) Harragon is put through his fitness paces by former Knight's team mate Adam MacDougall. Picture: Peter Lorimer
Rugby League legend Paul (The Chief) Harragon is put through his fitness paces by former Knight’s team mate Adam MacDougall. Picture: Peter Larimer

By Sarah Keoghan, The Sunday Telegraph

FORMER rugby league star Adam MacDougall is tackling the issue of mental health head on and he’s starting with ex-NRL players.

After the death of his best mate Dennis from a heart attack two years ago, MacDougall has stepped up to encourage former NRL players to talk about their physical and mental health.

“He had three beautiful girls who were all under eight. We would act like typical blokes and joked all the time about his heart,” MacDougall said.

“I decided I wanted to help men realise that getting fit and healthy doesn’t have to be so hard.”

Family and friends are everything to Adam, pictured with wife Belinda and daughter Harlow. Picture: John Appleyard

In partnership with the NRL and mental health group the Black Dog Institute, MacDougall is providing former NRL players with a support program.

“I don’t think people ­realise how hard it is to make that transition. NRL players have an average ­career of 2.6 years and they come out with no real further education, no trade and no life or work experience, so they pretty much have to start from scratch,” he said.

The 10-week The Man Challenge program, starting on October 10, is being made available free for former NRL players, proving them with educational tips on diet, exercise and mental health.

The NRL is excited about the partnership and has encouraged the rugby league community to get involved.

“The wellbeing and support of our rugby league players, their families and the community in general is a critical area of our game that we focus heavily on,” NRL Education and Wellbeing Manager Paul Heptonstall said.

“We know that when people are happy in their lives, they are more productive and supportive of others and it all starts with a healthy body and healthy mind.”

The Black Dog Institute is also enthusiastic, particularly about the awareness it will bring to the stigma of men’s health.

“We’re incredibly proud to have the support of Adam and his partners for this important campaign,” Black Dog Institute Director ­Professor Helen Christensen said.

“The funds and awareness they will raise will help us to tackle the problem of poor mental health among Australian men.”

Adam MacDougall is exclusively managed by The Fordham Company.

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