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Podcast: How NRL star Joel Thompson escaped a life of violence, substance abuse and self-harm

Joel Thompson has played over 200 NRL games, which is a great achievement for any athlete. But for Joel, it really is a miracle.




Joel Thompson tells us he grew up with not much more than survival on his mind, every day. Living in the chaos of violence, drugs and crime, and struggles with his own identity, he was on a downward spiral. The deeply personal stories he shares are confronting.


But his grandma pulled him out and put him in boarding school, breaking the cycle and exposing Joel to discipline, values and rugby league.


And while his career accelerated to the NRL, Joel’s battles weren’t over yet. He was confronted with mental health challenges to the point of considering suicide. Joel was saved by his wife, who forced him to get help.


Now Joel is using his story and influence to break stigma and drive change through the Mindset Project, his organisation that is helping thousands of people build resilience through workshops and training.


Joel talks with remarkable openness about his story, how he broke through and continuing struggles with his family, as well as the healing process, managing his mental health and broader views on athletes as role models and the NRL brand.


Listen to the interview and subscribe to Off-Field on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast player.


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Off-Field focuses on the world of sport outside of the arena with the people who make it happen. Hosted by James Begley and Andrew Montesi.

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