Smiling with his team-mates, posing for his first picture in a Wigan Warriors shirt, new signing Jarrod Sammut looks relaxed and happy.
Arriving at the club last month to bolster coach Adrian Lam’s halfback options, he can look forward to playing for the Super League champions in the latest chapter of a career which has seen him play for seven other clubs.
Having helped London Broncos to promotion last season following their Million Pound Game win over Toronto, some will have wondered if Sammut would have been tempted to stay with the Broncos to restart their life in Super League.
But the 31-year-old admits he didn’t leave the capital for rugby reasons, with the call from Wigan being more than unexpected.
“Our goal at London was for Super League promotion. We reached that goal and emotions were still quite high, even coming into pre-season,” Sammut explained.
“I was quite focused on being with London and sticking it out. But once we’d got back, my family and I are going through some difficult times at the moment, and in the end I just had to speak with Wardy (coach Danny Ward) and say ‘look mate, it’s proving a little more difficult than first imagined’ and the best thing to do was move north.
“From there we both agreed and then it was back to looking for work.
“I had a few Championship and League One clubs come forth, then out of the blue, a phone call from Wigan which was quite unexpected and I was shocked.”
Sammut, an international with Emerging Nations champions Malta, first burst onto the Super League scene with Crusaders in 2010, before moving on to Bradford Bulls and then Wakefield.
And having previously thought about hanging-up his boots – in 2017 he revealed he almost quit to become a fireman before joining London Broncos – he is looking forward to making strides off the field as well as on it.
“You need to have a balance I think,” he said.
“You spend the majority of the time within the rugby team and that there is your family as well. You probably spend more time with them than your actual family. You really do need to find that balance that when you’re away, you need to leave that to one side.
“Even if you’ve had a long day training you can’t put your feet up on the couch because there’s things to do at home. But I think over the course of the last maybe 12-18 months it’s just making sure you look after yourself.
“You can quite easily neglect yourself and everybody else starts to come ahead of you.”
Sammut retweeted messages promoting mental health support before Christmas, and admitted he was guilty of brushing off his struggles.
“I think that there is just something you need to keep an eye on and touch base with,” he said.
“It’s something that I did even though I look at myself and I think I’m quite a professional person in the way I carry myself, and I did fall under that scale where family and everyone else where ahead of me and I thought ‘I’ll be right, I’ll get through it’.
“Slowly but surely it starts to creep up on you and before you know it you’re starting to look at where things went wrong and where to turn and that’s where I was.
“Unfortunately that’s the nature of the beast. You always put everybody ahead of yourself and quite easily you do neglect yourself.”
But he is grateful of the support he has received in rugby league circles, and says his new club have also helped him manage with his struggles.
“I’ve got a really good support base,” he said.
“London were really good at helping and so too were Wigan coming in to this environment. Everyone can’t do enough for you and again I think just the rugby league community in general, it speaks volumes.
“It’s the type of community and type of family that we are. The reason I play the game, everyone is willing to help out and from there on you develop friendships you wouldn’t have imagined.”
Being aware similar difficulties can strike anyone with little warning, Sammut is also keen for everyone to be brave enough to ask for help when they need it.
“I think first and foremost, love yourself, look after yourself,” he advised.
“Don’t feel embarrassed to ask a question or to seek help. There’s no such thing as a silly question, you’d rather be safe than sorry.
“And just enjoy life. We don’t really get to grace the earth for a long period and some of us maybe for a little bit shorter a time than the others, so we need to make the most of it and the time that we do have.”