Rathbone turns down Jake

2012-02-11 09:27
Clyde Rathbone (File)
Sydney - Clyde Rathbone has turned down the opportunity to make a ''fairytale'' Super Rugby comeback after a secret approach from Brumbies coach Jake White.

While the former Test winger will officially decline White's invitation on Monday, Rathbone has not ruled out the possibility of returning to professional rugby in coming years.

White contacted Rathbone after the 30-year-old went public 10 days ago about his life-long struggle with depression and his continuing recovery. The new Brumbies coach offered Rathbone an opportunity to play with the ACT XV over the next month to determine whether he could return to Super Rugby.

If he had showed he could add value to White's squad, the coach was prepared to offer him a contract.

It was the second chance Rathbone thought he would never get after chronic knee injuries prematurely ended his career in 2009. But spending the past week deliberating and admitting to being ''seduced'' by the idea, he will tell White when they meet after the weekend he's not prepared to sacrifice his new life for a return to the field - yet.

''You don't get second chances, they don't pop up every day and my first reaction was that I was going to do it,'' Rathbone said. ''But if I was going to do it, it had to be for the right reasons. I have to make sure every day I get up I'm doing what I want for me.

''There's too much going on in my life that I'm really excited about and I had to make the decision whether to give that up. I spent a lot of time thinking about it. Rugby is still important to me, but I'm at that point where it is in my past.''

Rathbone opened up on January 31 about his off-field battles. Despite seemingly being at the top of the rugby world playing for the Brumbies and Wallabies, he was fighting depression. At his darkest moments, he contemplated suicide. His story prompted White to phone his former South African under-21s captain and they talked about the future.

Rathbone said he was mentally ready for a comeback. Physically he has been in the gym lifting heavier weights now than when a star in a Brumbies team of champions.

''When Jake pitched it to me I thought, 'shit, this is my fairytale','' Rathbone said. ''I would be happier to be able to finish on my own terms with one more good season under my belt before calling it quits.

''As a player you always think there are a certain set of circumstances which could fall into place and have you running back on the field.

''Instead of fantasising about it, it became a reality - no other coach would have called me and the youthful Brumbies squad made [it] more appealing.

''But I had to remove the emotion from the story … what I'm doing [in my life] now excites me more [than playing rugby again].''

Rathbone wants his story of battling depression to inspire others to get help.


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