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Rugby stars open up on ‘Being Men’

Rugby stars tackle tough topics in new video series

Raw, unscripted and authentic – Being Men, New Zealand Rugby’s (NZR) new online video series that seeks to challenge gender stereotypes and encourage blokes to open up, was launched yesterday in Wellington.

Created by filmmaker Sarah Grohnert, in collaboration with NZR’s mental health and wellbeing programme, HeadFirst, and their Respect and Responsibility programme, Te Hurihanga, Being Men explores wellbeing, healthy relationships, and masculinity from the perspective of New Zealand men.

Featuring Kiwi men from all walks of life, the online series includes current All Blacks Ardie Savea, Anton Lienert-Brown and Angus Ta’avao, retired rugby player Mauala’ivao Jack Kirifi and son Hurricanes player Du’Plessis Kirifi at their most vulnerable, as they reflect on the environments and relationships that have shaped them.

It also features men outside the rugby community, including filmmaker Ian Leaupepe and community youth leader Josiah Tualamali’i.

In one video called Tough Times, Anton Lienert-Brown opens up about his experience with anxiety. “I used to come to training and there would be boys with visible injuries – they’d have a broken arm or a broken leg and they’d always be asked, ‘Are you OK, bro?'”

“I used to sometimes stand there and think, ‘I wish they knew how I felt inside,’ and I wish they could ask, ‘Are you OK, bro?’ or ‘How are you?’ But I was too embarrassed to tell them what I was going through.”

However, Lienert-Brown says opening up, sharing his experience and seeing a specialist helped him to get through it. “As soon as I told someone and they talked to me about it and got me help, that was the start of me getting better.”

NZR Education and Wellbeing Manager, Dr Nathan Price, who leads the Headfirst programme, said it was powerful to have current players and influential members of the wider rugby community involved.

“Our players are seen as role models, so, when they’re vulnerable and open up about their personal experiences, or the challenges they’ve faced, it hits home.

“We’re so grateful to the guys for being so authentic, and we’re hoping these videos will help normalise talking about topics like mental health and relationships.”

The full Being Men series can be found at www.headfirst.co.nz/being-men.

Source: New Zealand Rugby

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