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ABs on mental health

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'That took me to some darker spots' - All Blacks lift lid on mental health

All Blacks Ardie Savea and TJ Perenara have lifted the lid on mental health in an interview with the The New Zealand Herald.

During their November tour Savea and Perenara elaborated on the importance of mental health and the recent push for its awareness in an interview with the Herald.

Savea made steps towards focusing on mental health two years ago when the loose forward joined close friends at a meeting organised by Wellington men’s group O-raize. Savea feels that after attending the meeting his perspective towards expressing emotion changed.

“My first reaction was the typical deny, I don’t need that, but after a while I thought what can I lose,” Savea told the Herald. “I went and that’s when it changed my whole perspective on things.”

“From that group I realised how much I needed to talk about emotions and feelings as a male and that was an opportunity for me to do it each week. It was awesome, and the fiancé was loving it too because I was talking to her more about things on a deeper level.

“It wasn’t normal for our friends to talk on an emotional level. Once we started that it made things better. Not just our relationships but things at home. Ever since that I’ve realised how important it was to talk.”

Savea noted that the birth of his daughter Kobe has also triggered a change in his attitude.

“The circle has become very close and that probably comes down to the birth of my daughter. Seeing her grow up it gives you a different perspective on life and what is important. I’m just trying to do my bit.”

Fellow All Black TJ Perenara has joined Savea in changing his attitude towards opening up and expressing emotion when necessary.

Perenara shed light on the macho mentality he was brought up with, and how he has been able to channel his emotions differently as he has gotten older.

“This is no knock on my family or the people who helped bring me up but we were told to harden up a lot of the time. That’s all I knew,” he said.

“I didn’t see anything wrong with it at the time and I took a little bit of that into my career early on. If things disappointed me through injury, selection, poor performances or when I used to read media I would bottle that and try and harden up and move on because I was told that’s what a man did.

“I feel that took me to some darker spots throughout my career if I wasn’t playing well and not being able to express those feelings through to fear of shame, embarrassment is definitely not the right message to be sending.

“Over the last few years still going through those same emotions, but being able to express those feelings, I feel like that’s helped me a lot to become a better player and a better person.”

Perenara and Savea will re-join the Hurricanes in January as preparations continue for their 2019 Super Rugby campaign.

In other news:

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'That took me to some darker spots' - All Blacks lift lid on mental health