Rookie Manly Sea Eagles forward Tyson Andrews beats demons to grab dream
BEFORE making his NRL debut with the Sea Eagles Tyson Andrews had to tackle his own demons.
The 24-year-old has courageously opened for the first time about how he overcame his battle with depression to fulfill his lifelong dream of playing premiership football.
Andrews was in the Broncos Under 20s side but walked away from the game at the end of the 2009 season.
“I was thinking I wasn’t good enough, that sort of plays with your head when you are younger,” he said.
“Playing with the players like Josh McGuire and Andrew McCullough and Ben Hunt you see they were great players especially in the Under 20s they were on the rise straight away.
“And you look at them and go ‘I am never going to be at that level because of how quickly they developed.’
“As a kid all you dream about is playing NRL and when you believe that dream isn’t possible — or you have that doubt where you can’t make it — in a way your whole world comes crashing around you and it puts you in that state where you are not in a happy place.
“I haven’t really talked about it but looking back on it now it probably was a little bit of depression with myself.”
To compound his own personal struggles his uncle took his life and in April last year North Queensland Cowboy Alex Elisala, a former teammate of Andrews at the Mackay Cutters club, did the same.
“When that happened it really hit home, it got me really emotional because I played with him and he was a mate,” Andrews said.
“It helped me realise looking back at that time that I was probably in a bit of that state without even knowing about it
“It all piles on top of each other and you don’t know how to deal with it and you really don’t know what to make of it.
“When you are a young footballer coming through a lot of pressure builds up on yourself.”
While his parents and partner Shivaun were always there for him, in what is an all too familiar scenario, Andrews kept his feelings to himself.
“You are playing a tough sport and try to put on that persona,” Andrews said.
“It was hard to talk about it, at the time you kind of hide things.
“The best thing is to just talk about it and I am just learning that now with my partner and she has done a good with prying everything out of me.”
After leaving the game Andrews took up boxing, becoming undefeated Australian amateur heavyweight champion.
“That really helped clear my head and put things into perspective,” he said.
“Taking a step back from everything and really looking at the bigger picture did help me out a bit.”
That break also made Andrews realise how much he missed rugby league and he joined the Mackay Cutters in a bid to kickstart his career.
He remembers sitting among the North Queensland cane fields while working on the roads and just thinking about the day when he would run out to play NRL.
“On that day I realised that is what I wanted to do and that is what I was going to do,” he said.
This year he was signed by the Sea Eagles and has become another player to thrive in the club’s renowned culture.
Tonight he has another chance to demonstrate he deserves to play NRL when Manly takes on his Broncos team at Brookvale Oval.
“I am in an awesome space now,” he said.
“I don’t necessarily want to be the best NRL player ever but just a player that everyone respects and doesn’t take a backwards step is what I want to be remembered as.”
JON GEDDES THE DAILY TELEGRAPH AUGUST 01, 2014