'Wrong message': Greg Inglis slams Ben Ikin over 'appalling' comments

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Greg Inglis and Ben Ikin, pictured here during NRL games.
Greg Inglis has labelled Ben Ikin's comments 'appalling'. Image: Getty

Greg Inglis has taken aim at Ben Ikin over the rugby league great’s controversial comments about mental health.

Ikin caused a stir this week when he said players who couldn’t handle the stress of playing NRL and the media scrutiny could always just play park footy.

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In an article that featured the headline ‘If NRL is bad for your mental health, there’s always park footy’, the former Queensland and Australia player said the media attention goes hand-in-hand with being a professional athlete.

“At what point does the responsibility fall on the individual to say, this job might not be for me, I don’t like the pressure or scrutiny, it’s not good for my mental health, so I’ll find a job where those forces don’t exist,” he wrote for Fox Sports.

“Or conversely, choose to play rugby league minus all the fanfare, it’s called community football.”

The comments were condemned by a number of NRL players, and now Inglis has expressed his disdain.

“I saw some comments by Ben Ikin that were appalling,” Inglis told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“That players who can't handle the pressure should go back to park football. That's very disappointing and sends the wrong message to people who are struggling. It lacks thought.”

Inglis has struggled with mental health issues of his own in the past and went on to defend the likes of South Sydney player James Roberts - who recently checked back into a rehab clinic.

“It lacks compassion. I know, I can speak from experience,” Inglis said.

“I think what James has done is something he should be proud of. There is no shame in seeking help.”

James Roberts, pictured here in action for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2019.
James Roberts in action for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2019. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Ben Ikin’s comments cause controversy

Ikin went on to claim that professional sport isn’t for everyone.

“It’s not a right, it’s not a privilege, it’s just a job that can be very difficult, especially for those who have a chink in their mental or emotional armour,” he wrote.

Current stars Joel Thompson and Josh Dugan were among those to criticise Ikin.

Thompson, who has Bipolar disorder, said rugby league has “given me the greatest life.”

“It’s also given me a real purpose to help our most vulnerable people. Should I have quit for park footy?

“Or embraced the support given to me in this position? [The] Healthiest and happiest I could ever be.

“I’m still in shock you’ve made this public,” he said in response to Ikin’s comments.

Dugan labelled Ikin’s comments “brain dead”.