Under-fire Brisbane captain Darius Boyd has warned an NRL player could take their own life if individual and team performances continue to attract savage abuse on social media.
Boyd and the Broncos are bracing for a public and media backlash when they return to Brisbane after the team were left embarrassed to record the worst defeat by any club in NRL finals history in their 58-0 finals loss to the Eels at Bankwest Stadium.
While coach Anthony Seibold took responsibility for the result in his post-match media conference, Boyd hoped the players, particularly the youth in the team, would accept their fate and learn from the experience.
A strong advocate for mental health, Boyd held fears about the effect of criticism which will come their way in the aftermath of Sunday's heavy defeat.
The club's Twitter account posted the result on the platform and within minutes had more than 100 responses, slamming individuals and Seibold's coaching efforts.
"It's disappointing because someone will probably do something silly like take their own life through mental health issues," Boyd said after the result.
"I'm a big advocate for [mental health], and that might have to happen which is very unfortunate if it does.
"That may have to happen for people to lay off, whether it's social media or mainstream media. We got it wrong, we've got it wrong a lot of times this year but it doesn't mean we're less of a person."
Boyd has been in the firing line more than any other player at the Broncos in 2019 but remains determined to see out his contract.
When asked if he was looking forward to a mental break given the criticism drawn his way this year, he offered a front-line response.
"I've spoken about it before, negative talk isn't great. I don't live in the rugby league bubble and have got a great support network," Boyd said.
"I've got a kind heart, I care about other people and have a positive mindset. I think about gratitude get me through. I don't read the crap because a lot of it is crap.
"Tonight was unacceptable and embarrassing, we're not shying away from that. But as far as the season goes, I think there's some positives that we need to be proud of as well.
"We were written off early, had a change in coaching staff at the start of the season, players leaving the club.
"We've had more than 10 debutants, a lot of critics – individually and collectively – and to still make the finals you've got to put things into perspective.
"There's eight other teams that didn't make it. We had a rebuild within six months and still made the finals."
Help is available 24/7 for anyone who has mental health issues by calling Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14
For further information on the NRL State of Mind program, click here