Ex-Wigan Warriors and Salford Red Devils centre Dan Sarginson looking for fulfilment and internal happiness as he opens up on the reasons behind his decision to retire
The 29-year-old, who represented Wigan Warriors, Salford Red Devils, Gold Coast Titans and London Broncos admits there are a number of reasons why he is stepping away from being a professional athlete.
Sarginson is open about how he was impacted by the loss of his brother Adam back in 2018, as well as how he struggled with his own mental health, and is now keen to do something to help others.
The former England international has revealed his decision to retire from rugby league is not a decision he’s made quickly, stating: “I felt it for a while.
“I was a lot more passionate when I was younger, and really wanted to succeed and excel in the game, which made it a lot easier to motivate myself.
“I feel like my motivation has changed.
“I’ve experienced what I set out to achieve. I had the wonderful opportunities of winning trophies and playing in internationals.
“They were amazing achievements and gave me massive highs, but they obviously don’t last.
“Coming down from the things, I thought they would make me happy forever, but it was short-lived.
“The memories are beautiful but it really made me question what I could do to make me happy long-term, if these things I’m striving towards give me this massive rush and then slowly dissipate.
“I had to think about what I could do to bring me happiness on a daily basis.
“Alongside watching my little brother struggle- and other members of my family, this coincided with me just wanting to help people because that’s where I get the most joy and fulfilment from life,
“It just feels like the route I want to take for the foreseeable.
“I have struggled with a lot of mental health myself.
“I always thought moving to Wigan would bring me this sense of fulfilment because ‘I would’ve made it.’
“That’s sort of what society tells us life is like.
“You get to a level where you succeed and progress financially which brings you happiness- but I didn’t really feel that.
“I then moved to Australia. There was a lot more money and I was living in the sunshine, but a similar thing happened.
“The international stuff was amazing and life changing. I'm so grateful I had that opportunity, but all of the same things came out of it.
“It gave me a lot of external happiness but didn’t really do anything inside me.
“Looking back, rugby league was always about feeling a part of something for me.
“The actual game itself is just a game, and we get caught up in it so much.
“You see fans going mental, and it’s great with the passion they bring.
“It brings so much to people’s lives and it brought so much to mine, and taught me so many things.
“I’m so super-grateful for it, it’s an amazing sport.”
During his playing career, Sarginson represented England, played in the NRL, and featured in two Grand Finals with Wigan Warriors.
The two-time Super League winner states the emotions around his two Old Trafford appearances were very different.
He also admits there are a number of other memories that are special to him looking back.
“One of my standout individual moments was setting-up that try against Australia,” he added.
“It’s something I never thought I would do.
“I never thought I’d be out there, I never thought I’d play against the Australians, I never thought I was good enough to out manoeuvre my opposite number in any shape or form.
“That moment in particular was amazing and I think back to that memory with a lot of joy.
“Then winning the two Grand Finals were two different feelings altogether.
“One was the first real sense of achievement in my life on a grand scale, and then the second one there was the emotion around losing my little brother.
“He’d been at the first one and said it was one of his favourite days.
“Before the 2018 one I’d been up all night crying my eyes out, I couldn’t sleep.
“Mark Bitcon and other amazing members of staff at Wigan sat with me most of the night, comforting me.
“There was just so much emotion and so much energy around that day, so that final was a beautiful moment.
“It felt like it was meant to happen in a way.”
In the social media post confirming his decision to retire, Sarginson paid tribute to his mum for the part she played in putting him in a strong position to play professional sport.
The 29-year-old admits he wouldn’t have made it without the support she gave him.
“My mum was amazing for me growing up,” he stated.
“I used to get home from school and she’d drive me an hour and half to London, sit in the car for two hours, and then drive me back.
“By the time we got home it was bedtime.
“She did that three days a week and took me to all of my games on the weekend.
“Saturday was rugby league, Sunday was rugby union.
“She bought everything.
“When I had injuries she would pay for private healthcare and stuff so I could speed up my process, but we didn’t really have that money growing up.
“I’m completely grateful for the sacrifices she made, and the energy she invested into me.
“It’s not just a corny phrase ‘I wouldn’t be able to do it without her;’ I wouldn’t physically be able to do it given a different parenting life.”
Part two of the interview will be available to read next week.