Former captain of the Parramatta Eels rugby team Nathan Hindmarsh has revealed the role he played in helping Eels halfback Chris Sandow with his addiction to gambling, calling on his own painful experiences to show that the addiction can be overcome.
“I haven’t counselled him,” explained Hindmarsh. “I asked Chris what he was doing to try and resolve the issues and he explained there were plans in place by the club to help get him started and that was pretty much where we left it.”
The former rugby league player, who played 330 first-grade games for the Eels and represented the state of New South Wales, as well as Australia, hit headlines himself back in 2011 after announcing that his own addiction to gambling had led him to play $200,000 on poker machines during his early 20s.
“I had a conversation the other day and I said you can push your body to limits you didn’t know you could go, but you can’t stop your finger from pushing a little button on a machine,” said the former gambling addict. “That was the frustrating thing.”
Not wanting to delve too deep into Sandow’s problems, Hindmarsh explained that he simply wanted to ensure he was on the right path and seeking help. Hindmarsh is one of very few people who would be able to identify closely to Sandow’s situation, which certainly makes him the perfect voice of reason for the struggling player. But he commented that he was unsure whether or not Sandow’s personal issues were affecting his game, since either could be the cause of the other.
“I just wanted to make sure he was seeing the right people and getting the right help,” added Hindmarsh. “The rest is up to him. If Chris wants to change, he can change.”
The revelations of his gambling addiction have caused uncertainty to cloud Sandow’s future in the game, so it is vital for his career that he seeks help from every avenue and resource available to him. “It’s unfortunate this has happened to him,” explained Hindmarsh.
“It’s a difficult thing to stop,” recounted the former rugby player. “You have your ups and downs, your good weeks and your bad weeks, and it’s a difficult situation to get a handle on because you know what you’re doing and you want to stop but it’s so hard.”
Sandow, who signed to the Eels from the Souths on a $550,000 contract in late 2011, is now involved in a program geared towards helping him realise the existence and extent of his gambling addiction.
“The campaign has been rolled out to all clubs throughout NSW,” explained 33-year-old Hindmarsh. “My face appears on little cards placed in gambling areas and the message is ‘if your gambling is not fun anymore, speak to someone.’ ”
Public Prostate Exam
Along with major club sponsor Glenn Duncan of Pirtek, Hindmarsh carried out another good deed when he underwent a “public” prostate examination earlier this week to highlight the need for other men to get checked out.
“It took less than 10 seconds, a bit of a feel around,” said Hindmarsh describing the intrusive procedure. “Yes it was uncomfortable, but I’d rather have 10 seconds of discomfort than endure what thousands of Australian men do each year all because they won’t get tested.”