Former NRL players Shaun Spence and John Skandalis compete in Australian Corporate Triathlon for beyondblue

Former National Rugby League (NRL) player Shaun Spence will compete this Sunday at the Australian Corporate Triathlon in Penrith in support of beyondblue alongside fellow former player and premiership winner John Skandalis as well as Chief Operating Officer Ryan Webb.

Shaun Spence leaves the field with an injury during an NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Brisbane Broncos in April 2013. He will compete at the Australian Corporate Triathlon in Penrith in support of beyondblue. Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.

Shaun Spence leaves the field with an injury during an NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Brisbane Broncos in April 2013. He will compete at the Australian Corporate Triathlon in Penrith in support of beyondblue. Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.

Spence, who played for the Wests Tigers, was forced to prematurely retire at the age of 22 through injury, which was when the issue of mental health first touched him on a personal level.

“It was at this stage that I went through my own struggles with mental health, which was a very tough time but one that I look back on now as a time that taught me so much and gave me a first-hand experience of what others go through,” he said.

“I was also at the club in 2013 when we lost one of our players (Mosese Fotuaika) to suicide. This had a significant impact on the players, staff and the club as a whole.”

It is for this reason, along with the mental health issues that are seen in society in general, that the NRL club decided to partner with beyondblue at the start of 2016, with the aim of raising awareness and reducing the stigma of mental health.

“beyondblue is a very important partner due to the club’s history with mental health but also as it’s so prevalent in society and gives us a chance to use our profile and resources as an NRL club to make a genuine difference in this space,” he said.

Although the players aren’t available as there is a game on that day, a staff team will compete to show their support of the event.

“Health and fitness is so important in the workplace as there is clear evidence now linking the benefits of physical health to mental health. We see this as our role to use our core business in promoting a healthy lifestyle, and by getting people active, it is also positively affecting their mental health.

“The other aspects of physical activity such as discipline, team work, communication and inclusion also all have a positive impact on the workplace,” he said.

The Australian Corporate Triathlon, Sydney will be held this Sunday April 23 at the Sydney International Regatta Centre, Penrith.

Teams can still enter here: http://www.corporatetriathlonseries.com.au/sydney/.

If you or someone you know needs help, head to www.beyondblue.org.au/​ or information on getting involved in the event head to http://www.corporatetriathlonseries.com.au/.