"Samaritans saved my life" - Brent Pope praised for honest interview on Tommy Tiernan Show 10 months ago

"Samaritans saved my life" - Brent Pope praised for honest interview on Tommy Tiernan Show

"I was told that real men don't cry. But yes, they do."

Tommy Tiernan Show viewers praised the honest conversation between the comedian and rugby pundit Brent Pope.

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The former St Mary's coach was the first guest on Tiernan's chat show on Saturday night (5 February).

Pope revealed that the results of a DNA test in the past two years revealed that he was 98% Irish, and 2% Scandinavian.

Tiernan pressed him on how the pundit came to Ireland as a player.

"It was a fluke really, because I needed to get out of New Zealand," he said.

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"I was having some difficulties in my life at that stage and I just wanted a break."

He received two offers to play in Europe, one for Rome's University in Italy and one for St Mary's in Dublin.

Pope chose the latter, and ended up spending his first night in Ireland sleeping in the foyer of the clubhouse.

He praised Irish people for their "random acts of kindness" at the time, including players from the club bringing gifts and inviting them to dinner for his first Christmas away from family.

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Tiernan asked the rugby pundit if he considered himself to be a vulnerable person.

"Very vulnerable, very vulnerable," he replied.

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"I've had difficulties and I've been open about them. I've had difficulties with mental health and I suffered from major panic attacks and anxiety attacks from an earlier age, and I hid it.

"Sadly I couldn't get help in those days. If I went to team doctors, they'd just look at me and say 'haven't you got all these things going on? Isn't life good?' or something like that, and I just buckled.

"It was just too much pressure and there was too many things happening at that time."

He remembered calling his father in tears asking him to come and take him home from Ireland while playing rugby, telling him "I can't go on like this".

"That was the start of when I reached out for help, and thank God I did, because I made a call to the Samaritans one night when I was in a particularly low period, it's emotional for me now even to go back to those days, but they saved my life.

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"I'll always remember to this day, as long as I live, this wonderful voice at the end of the line said 'what's wrong, friend?', and I don't know what it was, but that word 'friend' just resonated with me."

Pope went back to education in later years and is now also qualified as a psychotherapist.

"I was told that real men don't cry," the rugby pundit said.

"But yes, they do."