Wales winger Alex Cuthbert has reflected on the damage which negative social media comments had on him early in his career. He burst onto the scene in 2012, scoring the decisive try in his country’s Grand Slam triumph over France and then going on to tour with the 2013 Lions following another Six Nations title success.
However, the cheers soon turned to jeers, Cuthbert going a dozen matches without scoring for Wales and the keyboard warriors weren’t slow in picking him up about his famine.
Now aged 30 and away from the international scene since signing a three-year deal with English Premiership outfit Exeter in 2018, he has spoken about the online torment he endured when he fell out of favour with the fans.
Speaking to the BBC Scrum V podcast, he said: “I had a few really bad messages which I can’t repeat. But I’ve had some funny ones I’ve taken a screenshot of, like ‘Alex Cuthbert is the David Luiz [Arsenal’s error-prone Brazilian defender] of rugby’.
“I had some nasty ones, I had some on Facebook as well. I probably should have outed them there and then. It needs to be stamped out.
“When I look back, I’m thick-skinned now and I’d tell myself it doesn’t mean anything. What really matters is what your team-mates, coaches and family think. I learnt a hell of a lot in that period – I went real high and then I went real low.
“It was probably around the 2015 World Cup. That was a tough time,” he continued, selecting the toughest period of his career. “I wasn’t playing well, I had a really bad knee injury, tendonitis, I’d been playing with for 18 months.
“Then I had to play the 2016 Six Nations after that and some days I couldn’t even walk. That was getting me down, and then social media was starting to go massive then and I guess I was on that too much. That was when I felt the lowest.
“But when I look back now, I wasn’t really low – I’m now playing for probably the best team in Europe, I’ve got nearly 50 caps for Wales and I’m a Lions Test player. So in terms of being low, I haven’t really hit that.”
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now