‘Safe’ Sbu Nkosi opens up about his mental health struggles: ‘I’ve been curled up in a ball with my dad’

Sbu Nkosi was found safe as being reported missing. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Sbu Nkosi was found safe as being reported missing. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Published Dec 6, 2022


Durban - Springbok star Sbu Nkosi has been struggling with mental health issues over the three weeks of his disappearance from the Bulls and says he sought refuge from the world at his stepfather’s house in Emalahleni.

Nkosi was located on Thursday by Bulls CEO Edgar Rathbone and he has told Sibusiso Mjikeliso of News24 that he succumbed to mental pressure brought on by the highs and lows of top-flight rugby.

“It's been building up for a couple of years now, since the Sharks saga (he went missing at the Sharks, also) and it's been a tough time.”

"There's too much to go into right now: the expectations, the fact that by choosing to take care of myself right now there are people I’m letting down, and that also hurts me.

“But I'm at a point where I need to prioritise the person before the rugby player right now.

“I just needed time. I’ve basically been curled up in a ball with my dad, and he's been managing my mental state daily.”

When the Bulls went to the police and opened a missing person case, Nkosi featured in headlines around the world but he says he was not paying attention to the outside world.

“I haven't kept tabs on anything. It’s been at the point where I needed to manage every thought, so there was no chance I could manage those of other people,” he said.

“Everybody goes through this; it’s just that my name has some gravity behind it and people want to know certain things because of the many special Friday and Saturday nights that we shared together.

“I'm not special or different or unique in any way. I think it’s something that needs to be focused on a bit more, whether you’re on top or at the bottom. It’s always a rollercoaster.

“Maybe a little effort needs to be put into how the guys manage the wave of emotions that come with the good and bad times. A lot of things are out of your control as a rugby player.

“You just try to give the team and the coach the best product you can. And that takes your time, energy and a lot of you. It doesn't always go like we think it will.

“Nobody really teaches us how to manage ourselves, our thoughts and our emotions. It’s harder for the guys that are in tune with their spirit and their emotions.

“I’ve had plenty of teammates and I can tell you, not everyone is OK. It’s a tough environment.”

IOL Sport

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