Although former Highlanders player Lima Sopoaga was eager for the start of rugby in England, he said he is now happy to return to the court but had a time when he hated the sport and struggled with mental health issues.
“I probably hated rugby for much of my first year, to be honest,” Sopoaga told RugbyPass. Upon arriving at Wasps in 2018, the All Black was the victim of a wave of criticism as it came to take Danny Cipriaini’s position. “I definitely had moments when I thought: ‘I don’t know if I want to continue playing rugby’, added the back.
In addition, the New Zealander acknowledged: “My mental health suffered a great blow. I was naive, in the sense that I didn’t think moving to the other side of the world would have such a big effect on home life and on me personally. I just thought about coming to another country, buying a house, buying a car, going to train, coming home and enjoying life. Even in an English-speaking country, that was difficult. What made it worse was that the club was not doing well and I was not playing well. It just turned into a snowball. “
In addition to harsh criticism, Sopoaga’s pass was rated the worst signing in the Premiership, given the high salary he had. However, when Jacob Umaga supplanted him by opening in Wasps, everything changed as going from fullback helped him rebuild his confidence and his game: “I like the freedom to play from 15. The bottom line is organized and I help a lot at 10: I am a voice, your eyes, your ears. Before quarantine, I really enjoyed rugby, it was a lot of fun, and I just want to get back to that. I want to love my rugby again because I had started to find joy again. “
The former Highlanders player said his family had provided him with the strength to overcome his conflicts, although he revealed that he also received professional advice with the help of the Rugby Players Association.
“I came in with the wrong mindset in the sense that I thought, ‘I am a bona fide rugby player, I know how to play rugby.’ I was not mentally prepared when I left Dunedin, I had built these relationships with players for over nine years and I was hoping to go in and lead a team like I was running in New Zealand, “Sopoaga closed.