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Stevens: cocaine nearly killed my career

Matt Stevens yesterday revealed he was almost forced to quit rugby altogether as he prepares for his return from a two-year cocaine ban.

England prop Stevens admitted his drug habit almost cost him his career, which he is now looking to resurrect at new club Saracens.

The 28-year-old never had any thought of voluntarily ending his days as a player but claimed that decision was very nearly taken out of his hands.

“I don't think it crossed my mind but it was definitely something that was on the cards,” he said at his official unveiling as a Saracens player. Indeed, the forward feared not just for his career but also for his financial solvency after deciding to quit Bath in March 2009 before they sacked him.

“Recession had just hit, so it was difficult,” he said.

“I managed to come out the other side, so it's not a sob story. But it's quite sound economic reasoning that now I've finished my ban, the recession is going to lift.”

Stevens, who opened a cafe in Bath with former team-mate Lee Mears, added: “I potentially lost a lot, but I'm here today. So hopefully I haven't lost anything.”

Stevens admitted living a double-life while on cocaine had made him a fraud.

“It's difficult to be a genuine person, definitely,” said Stevens, who revealed after he was caught that his drug-taking was linked to feelings of self-loathing.

“I don't want to get into the personal stuff because it's taken two years and it's been quite a process of self-evaluation.

“What I would say is, it's been difficult, but it's also been one of the best experiences of my life.

“It's taught me a lot about myself, my limitations as a person, and what I've got to keep focused on — and it's taught me to be healthy, healthy of body but healthy of mind as well.”

Stevens, who also became father, added: “I think I've got a bit more humility about me now.”

The South Africa-born star revealed he was “always on guard” about being dragged back into the world of drugs, adding: “I've been working with counselling and talking to people — it's not something you can do on your own. My friends, family, the players, they're really supportive.”

Belfast Telegraph

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