Rugby league will support Smith: Gallop - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rugby league will support Smith: Gallop

By Liam FitzGibbon 15/04/2008 05:26:41 PM Comments (0)

NRL chief executive David Gallop is hoping the support of the rugby league community will pave the way for troubled halfback Tim Smith to make a successful return to the game.

The Parramatta playmaker on Monday sought indefinite leave from the NRL club to overcome his battle with bipolar disorder.

He will take time away from the sport and return to his family on the Gold Coast to recover from his mental health problems.

Gallop praised Smith for "making a brave decision" to walk away and said the careful handling of his situation by the Eels and rugby league as a whole had left him with every opportunity of returning to the game.

"In years gone by a player like that would get involved in a few incidents and maybe be cast adrift," Gallop said.

"That hasn't happened with Tim over the last couple of years and hopefully there will continue to be a network around him to see if we can help him through his problems.

"Certainly the league has counselling servicing available and I know the club will be doing what they can, but also realising it's a situation that needs expert help."

Smith, 23, has a long history of misdemeanours at the NRL club involving alcohol and spent part of the pre-season in a rehabilitation clinic on the Gold Coast.

He told his teammates he had been battling bipolar disorder for 18 months and wanted to get himself right before he could focus on football again.

"You've got to feel sorry for Tim, it's a brave decision that he's taken," Gallop said.

"Sometimes football is the one thing that's solid in young guys' lives.

"Hopefully we'll see him back playing football one day.

"It's doesn't seem like it will be soon but hopefully he can get on top of his problems."

Gallop said Smith's decision to walk way from the game illustrated the increasing pressures on the game's young players.

"It's a reminder of the pressure these young men are under to perform, to perform for their team, to perform in front of their fans and if they're struggling with a mental illness then that pressure must become quite intense," Gallop said.

The Eels have named Brett Finch at halfback in place of Smith with Feleti Mateo slotting in at five-eighth for Friday night's match with Manly at Parramatta Stadium.

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