Former Eels forward Kenny Edwards has revealed he battled alcohol addiction from the age of 12.
The 30-year old has been sober for nine months but reflected on darker times, stating that “drugs, alcohol and abuse is very much in the New Zealand culture.”
Edwards was sacked by Manly, St George Illawarra and Parramatta, with the 2018 season being his last in the NRL.
The Kiwi now plays for English Super League club Huddersfield Giants and opened up to UK publisher Daily Mirror about his sad childhood.
“I had to take a long hard look at myself,” he said.
“It was hard to break that chain at first but it has been the best decision of my life.
“I just wish I’d done it 10 years ago.
“I was an alcoholic and partying when I was 12 but the sad thing is it’s not uncommon in New Zealand.
“Drugs, alcohol and abuse is very much in the New Zealand culture. I come from a broken home and didn’t have a father figure but I’m not using that as an excuse.
“I never played drunk or with a hangover in the NRL because it’s too demanding physically and mentally. But if we played on a Thursday night I’d then drink until we trained again on the Monday. I don’t remember not being drunk on a weekend since I was 12.”
Edwards’ tough upbringing stems even deeper, witnessing his mother take her own life and being the victim of domestic abuse from his father.
He was axed by the Eels after an incident where he ran away from the police after driving on a suspended license.
The forward thanked his partner, Madison, for helping him get his life on track.
“We were high school sweethearts and she’s been a rock and a real pillar for me,” he added. “We’ve been through a lot as a family but we’ve both come out the other side.
“I enjoy my life now more than I ever have. No party or bender is better than the life I have now.
“I’m not tempted one bit to have a drink again. When you’re not hungover you enjoy things much more.”