Freedomroo – NRL star Brett Finch’s fans worried before he went to rehab – as he opens up on hitting rock bottom 

Fans of Brett Finch (pictured) were concerned after seeing his erratic behaviour on a 2019 podcast
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Former NSW State of Origin star Brett Finch has opened up about hitting rock bottom during a battle with drugs and alcohol.

The former star halfback, who played for Canberra, the Sydney, Parramatta and Melbourne in a 270-game NRL career, said he lost his girlfriend and was stood down from two jobs at his lowest point.

But fans were already concerned about his health two years ago when they saw him on a podcast hosted by NRL great and commentator Matty Johns.

A commenter on Johns’ podcast webpage said they were ‘really concerned for Brett Finch… really hope I’m wrong but he looks completely off his head’.

Fans of Brett Finch (pictured) were concerned after seeing his erratic behaviour on a 2019 podcast

Another commenter said: ‘Most would know he’s had history and tough times in the past. Even opened up about it earlier in the year on the MJ (Matty Johns) podcast show, brave stuff. 

‘He struck me as really being on his two feet this year in the media but that was car crash stuff to watch… genuinely concerned.’

There was also concern for Finch when he was spotted asleep with a bloodied and runny nose on a flight from Sydney to the Gold Coast in September 2019.

A fellow passenger said he didn’t appear to want to get off the plane and looked ‘white as a ghost’.  

‘[He] couldn’t control his runny nose and (appeared) paranoid. He wasn’t abusive. He just didn’t want to get off the plane, like he was scared about something,’ they told the Daily Telegraph at the time. 

The passenger claimed the plane’s captain was forced to come out, before fire crews and an ambulance were called to get him off the plane.

Another source said watching Finch struggle to breathe was ‘pretty confronting’ and ‘sad’. 

He checked himself into a mental health facility just days later to be treated for anxiety.

Finch married his girlfriend of five years Elli Johnston in 2018 and the couple welcomed a baby girl in 2019

Finch married his girlfriend of five years Elli Johnston in 2018 and the couple welcomed a baby girl in 2019

He left Channel Nine after working as a commentator and panellist on the NRL Footy Show in 2016, citing mental health issues.

Finch, 40, on Wednesday opened up on the Turn Up The Talk podcast hosted by Pat Clifton about his drug use and battles with addiction.  

‘Rock bottom was when I’d been stood down from Channel Nine, just to get healthy,’ Finch said.

Finch recalled how he snuck into bed and pretended to be asleep after spending all night in his loungeroom ‘using (drugs) and drinking’ so his then girlfriend Elli would think he had been in bed.

‘[I] pretend to wake up, put my radio shirt on because I was working for 2GB  Continuous Call at the time… I’ve already called Ray [Hadley] to tell him I was sick,’ he recalled. 

Former NRL star Brett Finch, pictured with his wife Elli Johnston, recalled the moment she walked out on him during his battle against drug and alcohol addiction and his first thought was, 'Where can I pick up, where can I get another one from?'

Former NRL star Brett Finch, pictured with his wife Elli Johnston, recalled the moment she walked out on him during his battle against drug and alcohol addiction and his first thought was, ‘Where can I pick up, where can I get another one from?’

‘Get in the car, go straight to me dealer’s house. My missus is from Melbourne, she’s not going to be listening to the radio, you know. 

‘I’m thinking, Finchy, you magnificent bastard, you’ve come up with a great… you know, I’m just going to go get on it all day.’

Finch revealed his plan came unstuck when his mother heard on the radio he was sick and his girlfriend subsequently found out. 

‘Elli knew exactly where I’d gone,’ he said.

‘She said “I’m out, I’m going,” and packs her bags and goes back to Melbourne.

‘I get home, now I’m stood down from both jobs, and I go to my account and I’ve got minus $10. Eighteen months earlier, I had hundreds of thousands. 

'I sat there and - not that I've ever contemplated suicide - but I sat there and went, mate, this is not living, this is existing,' the former NRL star told the Turn Up The Talk podcast

‘I sat there and – not that I’ve ever contemplated suicide – but I sat there and went, mate, this is not living, this is existing,’ the former NRL star told the Turn Up The Talk podcast

‘And my first thought is, where can I pick up, where can I get another one from?

‘It’s taken everything from me but my thought is, I still want another one. It’s ridiculous, I’ve just lost everything.’

Finch said that moment made him realise something had to change in his life.   

‘I sat there and – not that I’ve ever contemplated suicide – but I sat there and went, mate, this is not living, this is existing,’ he said.

‘I don’t have a dollar to my name, I’ve got no job, me missus has left, this is not living.’  

Finch married his girlfriend of five years Elli Johnston in 2018 and the couple welcomed a baby girl in 2019.

He previously discussed his battles with addiction at the end of his playing career, including stints in rehab in Thailand.  

The former star halfback, who played for Canberra, the Roosters, Parramatta and the Melbourne Storm in a 270-game NRL career, had a troubled time after his retirement from the game in 2013

The former star halfback, who played for Canberra, the Roosters, Parramatta and the Melbourne Storm in a 270-game NRL career, had a troubled time after his retirement from the game in 2013

‘It took a few years, it took three trips to rehab facilities,’ Finch told The Matty Johns Podcast in 2019.

‘I learned a lot about myself and the things that I’m dealing with. I had to realise I’m not going to get the highs I had in footy and for so long I was chasing that.’ 

Finch’s most famous on-field moment came in the opening game of the 2006 State of Origin series, when he kicked a long field goal to win the match for the NSW Blues in front of 80,000 fans.

In another part of the Turn Up The Talk podcast, which is devoted to mental health issues, Finch gave some advice to people battling similar demons. 

‘People say they’re going through hell. Well, if you’re going through hell, keep going,’ he said.

‘Why stop? People give up because their life is hell. Keep going! Who wants to stay in hell? 

‘I could have given up many times, I’m so glad I didn’t.  People didn’t give up on me.’ 

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyond Blue 1300 224 336 

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