Manu Vatuvei has opened up on his stunning fall from grace from Kiwi cult hero to convicted drug dealer.
Former Warriors favourite Vatuvei was recently granted early release from prison in New Zealand after being sentenced to three years and seven months in 2022.
Vatuvei has made brief comments before but has gone into great detail of his plight in a tell-all interview with former Warriors teammate Sione Faumuina that will air in New Zealand on Sunday night.
READ MORE: Roosters star binned as opponent left in agony
Vatuvei talked of the depths of despair, his marriage break-up, the loneliness and shame of jail and thoughts of taking his own life when at his lowest.
“I just started pushing everyone away,” Vatuvei explained of his life spiralling as he headed towards retirement and how he took to self medicating with alcohol and other substances.
“I started changing around 2016. I didn’t care about no one I just wanted to end it right there. I didn’t think about my kids, my family, my parents, my brothers. I was over and done.
“I wasn’t laughing as much. I just didn’t care. I was just doing stupid things like just going out and drinking for how many nights in a row. I had no soul.
“One fear that I had was ending my career not on my own terms and that’s what happened.”
Stream the NRL premiership 2023 live and free on 9Now
Vatuvei was cut by English club Salford after just eight games when he ruptured his Achilles.
“I had no idea (what to do) when my career finished… I had nothing. I had a separation with my wife. I was spending ridiculous, just doing stupid things and drinking. I reached a point where I had to start all over again.
“Going into prison was a life saver for me because if I was still out here, I would have been in a worse position than I am now.
“It’s hard now because I have to start again from zero but I’ve been there before. I’ve got the support there to help me out. People don’t know all the work I did inside, seeing a psychologist, studying. People just see all the bad stuff.
“They ask ‘why is he out so early?’ – Because I’ve done everything I’ve had to do to show I’ve changed as a person. I can’t control what people say or do towards me.”
When Vatuvei was originally charged with drug trafficking, his name was suppressed by the courts for several months.
But when the suppression order lapsed, he became front page news throughout his homeland and considered taking his own life.
“I wanted to commit suicide,” he said.
“I just snapped and just took off. I went to my parents’ house and just drank my sorrows away.”
Vatuvei stopped training after being charged and his once warrior-like body fell apart.
“I was 143 kilos before I went to jail, from binge eating,” he said.
The Warriors earned some criticism by giving Vatuvei a volunteer job mentoring young players following his release.
“It’s been good helping people out and giving them some of my life experiences,” he said.
“I like giving back to the community. I’ve been on both sides now.
“People only see what they see on TV… on the news and they tend to judge people.
“You get to sit down with that person and judge them through that. Their perspective of you changes. I apologise to all the brothers for pushing them away – if I could change it I would.”
For Sione Faumuina’s full interview with Vatuvei, CLICK HERE.
If you or anyone you know needs immediate support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or via lifeline.org.au. In an emergency, call 000
The Post NRL the Mole news 2023, Warriors great Manu Vatuvei speaks on drugs charges prison sentence and suicide Originally Posted on amp.nine.com.au