Wallabies and Waratahs star Kurtley Beale has opened up about how he was racially abused in South Africa during his Super Rugby debut in 2007.
Ahead of the Waratahs' semi-final against the Lions in Johannesburg this weekend, Beale revealed that he was called a "black c***" by an opponent in his debut against the Sharks in Durban.
The Waratahs midfielder talked about how racism has affected his life in a video he shot for headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation, an Australian organisation which combats mental illness and depression among young men.
"A lot of the struggles were growing up around alcoholism, drugs, domestic violence; a lot these had a kind of impact [on me]," Beale said.
"Instances where I've experienced racism - no one knew about it - in my first professional rugby game, in South Africa, at the bottom of a ruck and someone's called me a black C.
"It was pretty hard to deal with, but whenever I've felt that, I'd go to my grandparents and they'd keep telling me to try to use it as motivation to keep pushing on and keep moving forward in life."
Beale – who was instrumental in his side's 30-23 comeback win over the Highlanders last week – said he hopes more young men seek help for mental health issues like he did.
"In my earlier years I got mixed up with alcohol, and it was my first year of professional sport, I didn't really start off the way I'd like it to," Beale said.
"Having that respect for who you are and what you want in life, that doesn't allow me to go down that wrong path again.
"Those bad choices in the past, having that experience, allows me to pass on information or advice to young kids who may be dealing with what I went through.
"If you're suffering from a certain illness, picking up a book and reading about it and understanding exactly what it does gives a lot of understanding for yourself so you can push through, and pull yourself up if you are going through something, and reach out to people and seek help."
The 29-year-old Beale is one of many high profile athletes involved in the headspace campaign.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.
If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:
DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234
There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here