Wests Tigers and Parramatta NRL teams are coming together to support the Stay Kind initiative.
The memory of Mosese Fotuaika still looms large for Wests Tigers and sits heavy in the heart of his former teammates.
When the Tigers and Parramatta run out at ANZ Stadium next weekend, both will replace their front of jersey sponsors with the logo of the Stay Kind initiative.
Much of the build up will focus on Mitchell Moses’ first appearance against his former club but the Tigers are attempting to use the game as a vehicle to deliver a message about suicide which resonates deeply with many at their Concord headquarters.
Stay Kind was established in memory of Stuart Kelly – the brother of one-punch victim Thomas Kelly – who last year took his own life after persistent bullying and death threats.
Suicide, in particular youth suicide, is an issue that cuts close to the bone with the Tigers players and management.
In 2013 they were devastated after Fotuaika, a promising young front-rower who had just been elevated to the fulltime NRL squad, took his own life hours after injuring himself in the gym.
“I think this is why the Wests Tigers wanted to jump on board (with Stay Kind), we’ve had a past with that with Mosese back in 2013,” Tigers skipper Chris Lawrence said.
“With football clubs, and society in general, it’s a massive issue that needs more attention. If this is some small way we can shine a little light on it, it’s our little bit.”
Fotuaika was a part of the club’s 2012 under-20s grand final win and many of his former teammates are still at the club.
Players from both sides on Monday came together to plead with fans to fill ANZ Stadium next Sunday, knowing that when the rugby league community gets behind a cause – as it has done with the Rise For Alex and Beanies For Brain Cancer rounds in recent years – it can make a real difference.
Halfback Luke Brooks said Fotuaika’s death had left a lasting imprint on many still at the Tigers and they were hoping next week’s game can help shape attitudes and save lives.
“It was a great shock,” Brooks said.
“You didn’t know what he was going through and it was a shock we didn’t expect.
“The club was really good, all the boys stuck solid. It still affects some of the boys now but it’s a great cause to support.”
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.
Multicultural Mental Health Australia www.mmha.org.au.
Local Aboriginal Medical Service details available from www.bettertoknow.org.au/AMS