Leeds Rhinos star Stevie Ward has spoken of the ‘dark side of sport’ theme in his Mantality Magazine ahead of the launch this weekend.
The 22-year-old has been a notable absentee for the Rhinos in 2016 having been side-lined following an operation on his knee prior to the start of the campaign.
Ward has been unable to follow up an outstanding 2015 season which saw him score four tries and become the leading tackler in the side.
The Leeds-man has used his recovery period to form the online magazine Mantality which will be released at the First Utility Super League’s Magic Weekend.
He said: “The online magazine is being launched on Saturday the 21st of May. It is also going to be in all the Magic Weekend press, the match-day programme and also the Rugby AM magazine they are handing out.”
Mantality will be made up of Ward’s personal experiences and will also invite others to share their own stories.
Introducing sports fans to the tough times in the life of an athlete is something Ward is keen to achieve.
He said: “It is very important. Not just to the fans on your side all the time but also the ones that have made assumptions on players.”
“An assumption of an athlete is that they can do anything they want and that they are in their own realm of not being offended but let’s be honest it’s not an easy business to be in especially if you are out injured or if you have a bad game.”
“I think it is something worth attacking and making people think twice about assumptions.”
The Rhinos loose forward spoke of the magazine as something healthy for him to invest his time and energy into.
He said: “To become a Rugby League player and an athlete you have got that drive inside you that makes you want to do something beneficial. So when you are sat out or not getting anything from the day you need something that makes you feel like you can offer something.”
This was something he also strongly advised people in similar positons to do, saying: “If I was speaking to people who are long term injured, that is the number one priority to find.”
“You just need to get an interest and not just something you can fall back on but something you can really put some time into and enjoy.”
Ward described his alternation between injury setbacks and on-field success as a ‘merry-go round’ and explained how this lead to the idea.
He said: “I found I needed an external goal to be on with and to do something when I can’t run so that is the essence of why I wanted to do something.”
“I’ve had this condensed period of five or six years where I’ve been ultimately high and then stuck in real low moods. I reckon the middle of that can show the honest and gritty approach to how I am going to deal with things. Hopefully I can convey that in the magazine.”
“I want to get something out people can relate to and find entertainment and information in that is real and honest.”
Ward is scheduled to return to action in July and fans will undoubtedly be keen to see him impress in the famous number 13 Rhinos jersey.