Inside Inglis’ bender with reality TV star
Greg Inglis has opened up on his mental health troubles and hitting "rock bottom" during a wild weekend in an emotional episode of Australian Story.
The former NRL star is one of the game's greats but behind the incredible on-field exploits was a man who at times was lost and confused.
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A season-ending knee injury suffered in the opening round of 2017 was the catalyst for the ex-Storm and Rabbitohs player's descent into depression. He self-medicated with alcohol and endured volatile mood swings as life without footy turned dark.
"When I was feeling down, training was the only thing that kept me stable," Inglis told the ABC program. "Part of the reason my ACL had that massive effect was that I didn't have the routine.
"I tried to stay around the club and be involved with rugby league, but something that I loved and had been doing for so long had just been taken away, and I didn't know how to cope."
A trip to rehab in May that year didn't have the desired effect and in 2018 Inglis was caught drink driving just hours after being named Kangaroos captain. Later that year he broke up with longtime partner Sally Robinson, the mother of his two children.
Former South Sydney CEO Shane Richardson, a close confidante of Inglis, knew something had to give.
"He went crashing down," Richardson said. "I knew what he'd be like. I knew how it would affect him. And how he would really struggle with it personally.
"The off-season is the most dangerous period for a player because they've got so much time on their hands and so much money to spend. So Greg's off-seasons were always a worry."
Inglis' body was letting him down and the desire to play at the top level had waned. Still battling knee troubles, the fullback announced his retirement just two games into the 2019 season.
Without footy once again, Inglis returned to some dark places. A wild bender in Brisbane during the NRL's Magic Round - which saw every match played in the Queensland capital - provided the biggest scare yet for family and friends.
Inglis travelled up as a Rabbitohs ambassador but went missing for two days as he indulged in a boozy adventure.
It was later revealed Inglis had holed up at a Brisbane mansion with former nude model and contestant on reality TV show The Block, Suzi Taylor, who he met at a hotel in Fortitude Valley on the Thursday night that signalled the start of Magic Round.
"I think Greg wanted to come and just be no one and just hang out in a house in Queensland with me because it's far away from the NRL community, and it's something he needed himself to do," Taylor told Yahoo last year.
"He wanted some solace. He wanted some normal companionship.
"He was texting me and calling me and it's like a friend in need. He wanted just somewhere to go, some peace and quiet and that's what I ended up doing for him."
Nobody at Souths knew where Inglis had gone or how to find him, and Richardson - knowing the footy superstar as he did - feared the worst.
"It was a really tough time," an emotional Richardson told Australian Story. "For 48 hours we didn't even know where he was. But we eventually found out and put things in place to bring him home.
"I was fearing that he'd take his own life, because he just couldn't see any way out of it.
"Out of where he was going and how he was going to get there, that he'd felt he'd let everyone down."
Inglis told Australian Story he wasn't suicidal during that worrying weekend but had gone "past rock bottom" and "needed to hit a low point" before he could truly help himself.
Inglis said at his lowest point he was routinely drinking three bottles of wine one in one sitting.
"People around me, family around me, were getting affected by my mood swings," he said.
"I felt like s***. I thought, 'Oh, stuff it. I'll just have a drink'. Before I knew it, there was one bottle gone. Go for dinner, there's another bottle gone. Come home, there's another bottle gone."
A second visit to a rehabilitation facility followed and this time he committed to treatment, which saw him diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. The diagnosis changed everything. The medication he was prescribed is working wonders and Inglis is now enjoying life on his girlfriend Alyse's family property tending to horses.
"When I see the people around me, it still hurts me today to see what I put them through," he said. "My partner Alyse, she's been through it. She's ridden a s*** wave, (now) she's riding a good wave."
Life was going so well that earlier this year the 33-year-old shocked everyone by announcing he was making his rugby league comeback, signing a one-year deal with UK Super League side Warrington.
In what would be the ultimate fairytale end to his career, Inglis this week refused to rule out his possible return to play State of Origin for Queensland this year after Maroons coach Kevin Walters declared he was keeping an eye on Inglis.
Even if he doesn't get the dream football farewell, Inglis' comeback from rock bottom means his story is already a very real modern day fairytale.
Originally published as Inside Inglis' bender with reality TV star