Vodacom Bulls wing Sbu Nkosi says he went missing for three weeks because he was struggling to cope mentally with the pressures at the top level of rugby.
The Vodacom Bulls reported Nkosi as a missing person after failing to reach him for three weeks, during which he failed to turn up to any team activities.
However, on Monday afternoon, following extensive efforts from CEO Edgar Rathbone, the Blue Bulls Company confirmed that Nkosi had been found safe and sound at his father’s house in Emalahleni.
In an interview with News24, Nkosi explained that mental health battles led to his decision to drop off the radar and return home.
“There’s obviously a lot to speak about that I can’t say out loud but my condition is improving,” Nkosi told News24.
“It’s just been a whole lot of mental pressure. It’s been building up for a couple of years now, since the Sharks saga, and it’s been a bit of a tough time.
“There’s a lot, but I’m at a point where I need to prioritise the person before the rugby player right now,” Nkosi added. “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.”
Nkosi also had disciplinary issues at the Sharks, where he began his professional rugby career in 2015, and also didn’t report for duty during a period in Durban.
The 26-year-old called for greater focus to be paid to the mental health of rugby players, both at the grassroots and elite levels of the game.
“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.
“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 teammates and I can tell you, not everyone is OK. It’s a tough environment.”
Nkosi added that he was sorry for letting down the Vodacom Bulls and the people that brought him to Pretoria to give a new lease of life to his career.
“It pains me that I couldn’t hold it down for longer. I would have loved to add more to the four games I played in the jersey,” he said.
“Those were proud moments for me. I’m sorry to the people who brought me over to make a difference. I’m sorry that they brought me when I was in this stage of my life.”
Photo: Gallo Images