Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Wayne's World Not All Footy; Bennett's Philosophy Isn't to Make Good Players, It's to Make Good People

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Wayne's World Not All Footy; Bennett's Philosophy Isn't to Make Good Players, It's to Make Good People

Article excerpt


THE frank admission by rugby league journeyman James Gavet that timely words of advice from Wayne Bennett turned his life around comes as no surprise to those who know the Brisbane Broncos coach well.

"People don't understand how much Wayne (Bennett) loves his players, and they love him," former Brisbane and Australian rugby league star Steve Renouf told Australian Regional Media when he heard of Gavet's story.

"Wayne has helped many players with their problems over the years. We've all gone to him at times, myself included, and asked his advice on things outside of footy.

"Even when you retire and leave the club, Wayne's door is always open to his former players."

Gavet opened up to New Zealand Herald journalist David Skipwith about his life growing up in street gangs, his battle with drugs and alcohol, and dealing with the tragedy of losing two close mates, former Warriors development squad member Tyrone Filiva'a (2012) and Tigers youngster Mosese Fotuaika (2013). Both took their own lives.

He spoke about his battle with depression, about his own suicidal thoughts, and how hard it was being apart from his son while he tried to make a career as a rugby league player in Australia, a career that until now has been held back by some major injuries.

"I went through a lot of the normal pressures that young kids go through here in New Zealand, especially in Auckland," the Warriors' new recruit said before last Saturday's loss to Wests Tigers.

"There's a lot of gang influences, alcohol and peer pressure," he said.

"I went through a stint where I was suicidal. I had drinking problems real early. It was something I wasn't proud of for a long time. I've got a lot of physical scars on my arm here and had a lot of emotional and mental scars for a very long time."

Gavet admitted he was almost at the end of the line, but his talent was such that Bennett took a gamble on him after he returned to Red Hill before the 2015 season. And while the 26-year-old played just one game for the Broncos before suffering a season-ending injury, it was a move the prop forward said had saved his life.

Bennett was aware Gavet was doing all he could to stay off alcohol, but knew he was still gripped by depression, homesickness and feelings of guilt at being apart from his son who was still in New Zealand. The frustration brought on by his stop-start career only added to the problem.

Gavet found the Australian drinking culture difficult to avoid, and when he ruptured his ACL at training early last season he again turned to drink as a crutch.

"Because you've got no close family members or loved ones to say, 'Hey man, you've got to wake up,' you just end up staying in that rut," he said.

Thankfully, Bennett took him aside and gave him some fatherly advice. …

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