Rugby star Newton 'not abandoned'
The Rugby Football League has insisted that Terry Newton was not left abandoned following his two-year ban and that it was talking to him about his offer to help counsel youngsters on the problems of drugs.
The 31-year-old former Great Britain international was found hanged at his home near Wigan, seven months after his career was ended by a drugs suspension and a year after his younger sister Leanne died of pneumonia following heroin addiction.
Newton, a player with Leeds, Wigan, Bradford and Wakefield, was thought to have become depressed by the end of his rugby career and problems in his domestic life.
"Every registered rugby league player has access to counselling services if they want them and at the start of every year they are given an information pack with details of those offers," said RFL spokesman John Ledger.
"Terry will have been reminded of that counselling service. The RFL were also in dialogue with Terry about his offer to get involved with speaking to youngsters about the dangers of drugs. Nothing had been resolved but it was an open dialogue and we were still speaking to him about it."
Newton, who had been running a pub in Wigan since his contract with Wakefield was terminated in February, remained in contact with his former team-mates up to his death.
"People in rugby league stayed close to him," added Ledger. "He was not left high and dry."
A trade union official who represents more than 700 rugby league players believes more can be done to help victims of depression in the wake of the tragic affair.
Geoff Burrow, sports officer for the GMB union, which has 703 affiliated members through the Rugby League Players' Association, said:"Terry was a valued member and I spoke to him about three weeks ago. We've got to get around the table with the RFL. While people may regret what they've done, we need to make sure that regret doesn't turn into full-blown depression."
Newton, who became the first athlete to test positive for the banned substance human growth hormone, revealed in his recent autobiography Coming Clean that he turned to drugs in a bid to revive his flagging career.