Online death threats lead McGuire to seek support
Death threats and constant online abuse have pushed Cowboys enforcer Josh McGuire to seek professional mental health support.
His wife Tanyssa McGuire said her husband approached club officials yesterday after feeling like he'd "been backed into a corner" by online trolls.
"He's been getting absolutely hammered, relentlessly - like hundreds every morning and they are just the most disgusting things," Mrs McGuire said.
"He's just really withdrawn when normally he's very bubbly and a big jokester but he's developed a sad demeanour and finding it hard to find joy, he absolutely loves football and us but it's finally taken a toll."
Tanyssa said Josh had copped his fair share of online hate over the years but recent death threats against him and his family were the final straw.
"He had someone a couple of days ago saying they hope he gets hit by a bus so his kids don't have to grow up with Josh McGuire as their dad," she said.
"He accessed support as of today. I think since the suspension that paired with the comments he's at the point where he said I need to involve other people and talk to someone."
The Cowboys forward entered an early guilty plea for a grade two contrary conduct charge after footage showed that he unnecessarily placed his hand on David Fifita's face in the Brisbane Broncos' narrow win over North Queensland on Thursday.
He has been suspended for three games.
It was determined there was not enough evidence to charge McGuire with eye-gouging, which carries a heftier punishment.
Karlene McGuire, Josh's mum, made a public plea on her Facebook page to online trolls to consider the impact hateful slurs could have on people.
"Threats to him, his children, his family as a whole are incomprehensible, to suggest he kill himself or be harmed in any way is beyond our understanding," she said.
"Take a long hard look at yourself - mental health matters."
Sports psychologist and adjunct academic at the Australian College of Applied Psychology Dr Clive Jones said the use of social media had added psychological challenges many sports codes were grappling to overcome.
"Unfortunately it's still at the reaction stage, at the moment it only kicks in when athletes have already been affected," Dr Jones said.
"There's a heck of a lot of security at sporting events to keep athletes safe but those forms of security aren't in place online."