Heartbreaking new details have emerged about Shane Tuck’s struggles to fill the void after his AFL career ended, with his former club president fearing he was isolated during the coronavirus crisis.
The AFL community has been left devastated by Tuck’s death - the Richmond Tigers hero dying on Monday morning at the age of 38.
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On Wednesday, Tuck’s father and Hawthorn legend Michael opened up about his heartbreak and lifted the lid on his son’s mental health battle.
“He was a big, strong kid and he just had a few issues and he couldn’t get rid of them and that was the only way out,” Michael told the Herald Sun.
“A lot of men think they’re alright and they’re actually not, and the best help they can get is telling people actually how bad they are, and not saying, ‘I’m alright, I’m alright’.
“It was bit like that (with Shane), he kept it all in because he was a tough, strong man. But you’ve got to show … it’s not a weakness, it’s just to express yourself with honesty and don’t try to cover up things.
“He didn’t mean anything by it, he just couldn’t admit he had a real bad problem.”
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Herald Sun journos Jon Ralph and Reece Homfray detailed how Tuck struggled with his life away from sport.
After 174 games with the Tigers, Tuck retired in 2013 and tried his hand at boxing. But after that ended in 2017, Tuck “struggled to fill the void”.
Some of his former teammates at Goodwood Saints Football Club in Adelaide had reportedly been working to help him, with club president Craig Scott fearing Tuck would have felt isolated amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“A couple of people within the club were aware (of his battles) and were supporting him,” Scott said.
“Covid was terrible because it just isolates people so much.”
Shane Tuck turned to boxing after AFL
Boxing promoter Jake Ellis told the Herald Sun how Tuck had been desperate to make something of his boxing career, describing his incredible bravery to get back into the ring after being knocked out in his first professional fight and carried out on a stretcher.
Tuck was KO’d while fighting on the undercard of Anthony Mundine and Danny Green’s second bout, but was “keen to find a passion that gave him a distraction from life's struggles.”
“He would relate back to the fact that this was the way to keep his life ticking along, not give himself too much time to think, he wasn't playing footy at that point so he didn't have a lot of structure in his life, so the whole point was to try to get him back some structure,” Ellis said.
“For the better part of 12 months he was mentally tormented from that experience of his first fight. But he mustered up the courage to have another crack and it was very important to him because the first time was such a negative experience.”
Scott said Tuck returned to Goodwood after his boxing career ended, helping the club’s inclusive side (for disabled players).
Tributes pour in after death of Shane Tuck
On Monday, Richmond described Tuck as a courageous and brave player who was loved by his teammates, staff and fans off the field.
“We're incredibly saddened by the news of Shane's passing. He will be missed enormously by everyone,” Tigers CEO Brendon Gale said.
“We send our deepest condolences to Shane's family and loved ones - his wife Kat, children Will and Ava, parents Michael and Fay, and the extended Tuck family.
“Shane was a warrior on the field, giving everything to the team each week, and a humble, fun-loving person off the field.”
Richmond spearhead and former teammate Jack Riewoldt described Tuck as an inspiring character.
“You always walked taller when you had Shane Tuck playing next to you,” Riewoldt said on SEN radio.
“There are plenty of stories about Tucky and a lot of funny ones.
“He was one of those players that you loved to spend time with because there would always be a story come out of that.”
Richmond will pay tribute to Tuck by wearing black armbands during Friday night's match against Greater Western Sydney.