Coke, hookers, meltdowns: My marriage to NRL star
The former wife of a rugby league champion - who played State of Origin and represented Australia - has given an astonishing insight of how she married into a web of cheating, drug use and cover-ups. The woman, who is attempting to move on with her life, has spoken out on the condition of anonymity.
Deja-vu. That was my reaction when I read the recent allegations about married rugby league players.
While it's shocking for outsiders, it is not surprising for anyone who has been married to an elite NRL player.
Close your eyes and it could be any of us - with any top tier marquee player.
So many of us have experienced a version of the story over and over again. We've had club officials sitting in our kitchens, witnessing these cataclysmic meltdowns and then when it's wrapped up and they've kept it out of the press.
You're left standing there. From the top down, everyone is complicit.
While you would think it would be common with the younger up and coming players, it is far more common in big name players that are married or have kids.
These are the players promoted as the wholesome stars in these family-friendly clubs, but the reality is they are monsters. I can't stress enough how complicit everyone is.
BETRAYAL IN A PILL
The worst example I'm aware of where the club prioritises player welfare over the wellbeing of wives is when a club doctor treats a player who has contracted a STD from cheating.
A club doctor supplies anti-chlamydia medication for the player and the player's wife - without her knowledge. It is given to her as a vitamin supplement to treat the STD she didn't know she had.
I know of this happening at two big clubs and an Origin camp. I'm pretty certain it has happened to me too.
I've seen a second hotel room at Origin camp for a player's prostitutes, while his wife is in the other hotel room nearby.
The officials organised that second room knowingly.
I've been at work and checked social media and seen pictures of a cheerleader posing in her bikini by my pool, on my wedding towels, wearing my sunglasses.
I've woken up when he was overseas on a 'trip away' and our iPad was still linked to his phone and I've seen all the messages organising hookers.
We had to set a Google alert because people would update his Wikipedia page to say under 'personal' that he cheats on his wife.
There is an unwritten rule that no one has your best interest at heart.
GOLDEN RULE IS 'SHUT UP'
It is very lonely, even when you're sitting with all the wives and partners at a game. You know a wife will greet you knowing or having witnessed your partner cheating on you, yet no one says anything.
It is very superficial. It's always about protecting the image of the club. Player welfare and more importantly wives, partners and their family's welfare, is secondary to the club. Always.
You are very much expected to put up and shut up. You are an unpopular person in the club community if you blow a whistle on any of these boys.
It is a sad way to live. And then you move on to the next club.
At every club the doctor is called 'doc'. The doctor is aware of the players' pathological abuse of prescription meds.
Drug seeking tendencies and doctor shopping is highly contentious and embarrassing for the club.
So the club doc will prescribe medication to avoid the embarrassment of the players seeking out doctors to get their benzos and Valium, sleeping tablets, Ativan, Xanax.
So the club doctor prescribes them but that is all done to protect the club, none of it is to help the player.
My former husband overdosed overseas on a 'trip away'. They thought he was dead. He was hospitalised under a fake name.
I had to pick him up from the international airport and was told to take him straight to the club for blood tests from the club doctor to see what drugs could still be in his system.
I've seen a player snort an entire gram of coke in one snort.
On a Monday morning in the off-season I've seen him take seven ecstasy pills in one go. I just shook my head and left for work and said "I guess I'll see you in two days then".
VANISHING & COVER-UPS
Disappearing for days is common. You get used to it. Missing for two days is normal. Three days is when you get worried and club officials get involved.
I would go to hospitals and police stations. When you call police and ask if they've arrested your husband and they say "no yet, darling". It is so humiliating.
Once, we drove in separate cars to dinner at the club and we only lived nearby. When we go to leave, he texts me and says he's in the car behind me and he'll see me at home. He was sober. That was 9pm. I go home, watch Foxtel and suddenly it's midnight and he's not answering his phone. I thought he had been carjacked or was in an accident. I call the players he's usually with, they haven't seen him. I go back to the club and the security says he left hours ago.
I called him hundreds of times. I called his manager. I go to every hospital.
It's 5am on a Saturday and you're asking emergency nurses if the man in the photo you are holding has been brought in and that he might not know who he is. I can't describe the look of pity they give you.
The CEO of the club is calling you. His manager is calling you.
And then at midday he gets dropped home by a taxi and he's off his face. I then get a knock at the door, it's the taxi driver who has returned and is saying "I wonder how much it's worth telling you that I picked him up from a brothel, or should I tell the papers". So then I have to arrange a signed jersey and $1000 in cash for a taxi driver to keep quiet which the club organises. You are always getting people's phone numbers so the club can organise tickets for them in return for them deleting photos of your husband unconscious in a gutter.
It's a cancer in the NRL and all clubs are complicit, and all clubs know it goes on. From the strength and conditioning coach upwards. The NRL integrity unit is a joke. It is solely in place to protect the interest of the game.
These players are protected by these businesses who are run to make money. When their value drops through scandal it is not good for the club so their motivation is not to reduce the scandals, it is to reduce the scandals getting out.
And the players are emboldened by the club enabling their behaviour.
No one ever fixes the core problem. They just are very good at covering it up.