One of the most high profile absences from Steve Hansen’s All Blacks squad this week was Liam Squire’s, after rumours had emerged that he had made himself available.
The bruising flanker missed much of the Super Rugby season with a knee and hip injury, and subsequently ruled himself out of the Rugby Championship, with many believing he would make a return at the World Cup. However, he confirmed on Instagram that he was not ready “physically or mentally for the pressures of test match rugby”.
In a brutally honest post, he said that it has been a “really tough year” for him both physically and mentally, and that he will focus on playing for Tasman Mako for the time being. However, he did not rule out returning for the All Blacks during the World Cup if there is an injury, providing he is ready to play.
The 28-year-old signed off by saying “for me mental health is a lot more important than playing rugby”.
This decision by Squire has received universal respect from the rugby world, as it is a courageous move to be so honest about mental health in sport.
Many people on social media have described the reputation that rugby has of being ‘hard’, but this is a wise move by Squire to open up.
Playing for the All Blacks is the ultimate honour any rugby player can have, let alone playing in the World Cup, so to forgo that opportunity is a clear indication of the strain that Squire would find himself under. But being so honest is a huge step towards helping him and others.
This is what has been said on social media:
I’m a bit choked up at how good this is.
The more we move away from “harden up” and into “are you okay?” the better we will be as a society.
What a good bugger.
— Anaru Chalmers (@Chalmeiras) August 30, 2019
Liam Squire. Well played sir. Thank you. Was reading a stat yesterday that says on average a man commits suicide in the UK every 2 hours. Tragic. We need more men like Liam Squire.
— Don Johnstone (@DonOnTheCouch) August 30, 2019
No question mate. It takes a lot of bottle to that that. To say no. Definitely, wishing him well. He has my support.
— Shahrul Anaz (@ShahrulAnaz) August 29, 2019
Liam Squire choosing to publicly say he’s putting his mental health first and that’s why he’s not in the All Blacks squad is really an incredible thing. So glad we’re moving on from the 'hard man’ era and into the 'wise man who isn’t afraid to talk about mental health’ area. ??
— Josie Campbell (@josiecampbell) August 29, 2019
It is pretty awesome to hear an All Black talk publicly about his mental health. Props to Liam Squire.
— Steelbanks (@steelbanks) August 29, 2019
Extremely brave call from Liam Squire to put his mental health ahead of the Rugby World Cup. Sends a really important message to so many of us who are or who have be been battling. Mental health should be number one. Legend. #FinzUp
— John Day (@John_Day_) August 29, 2019
Liam Squire- huge shoutout to you brah. Anyone would have jumped at opp to don that Black Shirt at half a chance, but you saw that privilege comes at a huge accountability and responsibility. Knowing you weren’t a 100% meant you took the right road to decline Gaffer Hansen’s pick
— Ravi Arunasalam (@rarunasalam) August 29, 2019
So much respect for Liam Squire! What an ambassador!
"For me mental health is a lot more important than playing rugby."https://t.co/UEN7FLhLEO
— Benjamin Riordan (@BenCRiordan) August 29, 2019
Mental health is something that is being discussed and focused on much more in rugby, and was brought to the attention of many recently after former Wasps lock Kearnan Myall explained how much he struggled mentally when playing. The more players that speak out means more progress will be made.
For now, All Blacks fans will be hoping to see Squire in the six shirt again whenever he is ready.
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.