Wed, 12 Aug 2020

, the 29-year-old opened up on his struggles.

"I probably hated the game for a lot of my first year, to be totally honest. I definitely had moments where I thought, 'I don't know if I want to continue playing rugby,'" he said.

Sopoaga said his mental health "took a pretty big hit".

"I was naive, in that I didn't think moving to the other side of the world would have such an effect on home life and on me personally.

"I just thought I'd come to another country, get a house, get a car, go to training, come home, and enjoy life. You're trying to work out simple things like which supermarket do I shop at, paying this council tax and this insurance, setting my family up at the doctor. Even in an English-speaking country, that was hard.

"What made it worse were the club not doing well and me not playing well. It just all snowballed, man."

However, things have improved and before the coronavirus lockdown, Sopoaga was enjoying his rugby again.

A positional switch to fullback has also helped.

"I like the freedom of playing 15. You end up organising the backline and helping out the 10 a lot. Before lockdown I was really enjoying rugby, it was really fun, and I just want to get back to that."

Sopoaga, who won Super Rugby with the Highlanders in 2015, played 16 Tests for the All Blacks between 2015 and 2017.

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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