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Turn to Me Round as relevant as ever

The first Turn to Me Round was played in season 2013 after a number of untimely deaths rocked the rugby league community.

The Turn to Me initiative began when Ipswich Jets chair Steven Johnson and former Redcliffe Dolphins players Petero Civoniceva and Isaak Ah Mau thought of the idea to help encourage rugby league players to share their burdens and speak to someone, to make sure people knew they were not alone. 

Since then, the last regular competition round in the Queensland Rugby League's statewide competitions each year has been dedicated as the Turn to Me Round and highlights the issue of mental health and wellbeing in all of the game's participants. It also reinforces the message of mateship during off season.

Maiden: 'Turn to a mate, turn to a colleague, turn to a friend, turn to a coach'

"When we lost two Queensland rising stars, Mosese Fotuaika and Alex Elisala in 2013, it hit our very close-knit Queensland rugby league community very hard," Johnson said.

"Isaak brought Petero and I together and said we have to do something, one death is a tragedy, two is a crisis.

"So we developed Turn to Me based on our game and life experiences and it is an awareness campaign about trying to help players’ better understand that in life’s tough times - and we all do have them, that they are not alone and can reach out to their coach, other players or their mates and know that is okay to have the hard honest yarn about how they feel.

"(On) game day, we start the game together, we finish the game together with a very simple message; that we might be enemies on the field, but once it’s finished, we are all mates having the same battles in life and we turn to each other."

Isaak Ah Mau and Petero Civoniceva promote Turn to Me Round in 2014.
Isaak Ah Mau and Petero Civoniceva promote Turn to Me Round in 2014.

Annually, the Turn to Me Round is supported by the fundraising efforts of Swich On, who help in the promotion of the round by purchasing the blue socks which have become a symbol of the round and are worn by Hostplus Cup and Hastings Deering Colts players and match officials, and specially-labelled Turn to Me Round footballs. 

Since the staging of the first Turn to Me Round games in 2013, QRL have invested in practical measures to develop programs and build awareness around mental health and wellbeing.

QRL is committed to supporting and educating all rugby league players – from grassroots to State of Origin, and the wider rugby league community, including parents, coaches, volunteers – with on-field and off-field issues including mental health awareness and support.

"The game has certainly now accepted its obligation to do all it can to keep our young men and women safe," Johnson said.

"The importance of the work we were doing was embraced by the NRL when we lost three more young Queenslanders... Hayden Butler, Francis Winterstein and Regan Grieve, and since, across the game - (one of) the most physical on the planet - mental wellbeing is now as important as physical wellbeing. Proudly, the game in Queensland drove that change."

One of the main drives in recent times has been the creation of the QRL Support Squad, which is a network of volunteers making a positive difference in community rugby league across Queensland.

Register your interest to join the QRL Support Squad.

The QRL Support Squad also work with a range of delivery partners such as ALIVE, which has a vision is to end suicide in young people and provides online and in-house suicide prevention programs that build resilience, connection and wellbeing.

While everyone has tough days, programs like QRL Support Squad and initiatives like Turn to Me Round exist to help people realise they are not alone. 

Johnson said maintaining strong connection with others was important for mental wellbeing and was particularly relevant now, with people emerging from the past few years of isolated life.

"To be mentally healthy, make the effort to connect to others, have the yarns that your brain needs to free up your thinking and how you see yourself," Johnson said when asked for tips on checking in," Johnson said.

"We need to be kinder, to others, and importantly ourselves.

"It's human to not be perfect and to stuff up, but don’t beat yourself up, own your circumstances and learn.

"And remember when the sky turns black, Turn to Me."

Main image: Souths Logan Magpies players don blue socks for Turn to Me Round in season 2021. Photo: KPM Sports Images

If you need help now

If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, contact mental health services or emergency services on 000.

If you need to speak to someone urgently, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. You can also visit

Other providers

BeyondBlue Phone: 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline Phone: 1800 551 800
Suicide Call Back Service Phone: 1300 659 467

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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