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O'Brien battling personal demons, begs for space from media

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O'Brien: 'Just give me a bit of space'

Collingwood star begs for space from the media as he battles personal demons, promising to open up 'when the time comes right'.

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The club has been fantastic in supporting and protecting me and they have tried to do that. I ask you guys to cooperate because I am going through some real stuff here 

Collingwood star Harry O'Brien says sexual abuse, depression and suicide are behind the personal issues that saw him take time off from the club last week.

Star Collingwood player Harry O'Brien trains after revealing he is suffering depression.

Star Collingwood player Harry O'Brien trains after revealing he is suffering depression. Photo: Jason South

O'Brien has ceded his spot in Collingwood's leadership group, as the premiership star battles personal "demons" and looks to regain his place in the team.

O'Brien returned to the Magpies on Tuesday and trained with the main group, although he left the field before match practice.

"I'm going through a history ... of things for a long time, including a long and very complicated history of sexual abuse, suicide, depression, seeing someone get murdered, knowing that who murdered that person and not being able to say anything, knowing that person will probably murder you," O'Brien told the media as he arrived for training,

O'Brien moved freely during his truncated session.

O'Brien moved freely during his truncated session. Photo: Jason South

He asked the media to give him some space and said that his minor altercation with coach Nathan Buckley last week was not a major issue compared to the personal issues he faced.

"When the time comes right, I will open up about these issues, but this is my personal experience and I have to do this in the public eye," O'Brien said.

"And it's really tough, so if you guys could just give me a bit of space because I am going through some real stuff ... It's really tough, really tough stuff..."

Harry O'Brien promotes the Knives Scar Lives campaign, 2010.

Harry O'Brien promotes the Knives Scar Lives campaign, 2010. Photo: Paul Rovere

He asked reporters not to speculate about "the issue with Bucks" but to speculate about the abuse he had suffered.

"Whatever you guys have been reporting, that is secondary, this is my real stuff," he said.

"The club has been fantastic in supporting and protecting me and they have tried to do that. I ask you guys to cooperate because I am going through some real stuff here.

"That's the real issue here. You know, my demons that I'm starting to face.

"I just rattle off those issues and there's even more, even more that I don't feel comfortable in sharing."

O'Brien had been in career-best form this year, having moved from the backline to the wing.

O'Brien had been in career-best form this year, having moved from the backline to the wing. Photo: Getty Images

One of the matters troubling O'Brien is the aftermath of having witnessed a murder on Christmas Day 2011 in Brazil.

The half-back cum winger had spent four days at Port Douglas, missing the round 15 game against Carlton, with the blessing of the club, after reacting to a comment from Buckley last week. Buckley and club president Eddie McGuire refused to discuss the details of the disagreement.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said he had been aware of O’Brien’s issues, but did not know he would publicly reveal his condition. O’Brien has been vocal on a range of social issues, and had a run-in with McGuire over his now-infamous King Kong radio gaffe.

Harry O'Brien says his issue with Nathan Buckley is minor compared to the personal issues he faces.

Harry O'Brien says his issue with Nathan Buckley is minor compared to the personal issues he faces. Photo: Getty Images

O'Brien joined training at 10am, leading the players out. He appeared to move freely, showing no signs of a reported ankle injury, and was in good spirits.

He left the track early, embracing club president McGuire on the way. They had been at loggerheads in recent times after McGuire's racial gaffe.

O'Brien, who also has floating bone in his ankle, will not play against Adelaide on Friday night but could return a week later.

"He hasn't trained for eight or nine days. Basically the last physical exercise that took place before today was the Port Adelaide game," Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said on Tuesday.

"We will give him every opportunity to get back up to speed. When 'H' feels like he is ready to go, and we will feel it's the right time, he will be back playing.''

"We have removed the burden of leadership from Harry. He won't be in the leadership group for the remainder of the year and we will assess that going forward beyond that," Buckley addd.

"What we are encouraging Harry to do at the moment is be there to support him, and for him to feel like what he needs to do to be in good shape.

After round one, O'Brien told SEN radio the murder he saw had affected him throughout 2012, when his form dipped. He indicated that he would talk more about the issue in the future.

"Christmas Day 2011 I watched someone get murdered. That was over in Brazil. Just coming back to Australia after Christmas, 2012, January. Just seeing the contrast in life and people complaining about the pettiest things... I just lost so much faith in the world really and it was a real grind last year."

On 3AW, psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said that in his opinion O'Brien should not play football until he had undergone a full psychological assessment.

McGuire, on his Triple M breakfast program, said the club was giving O’Brien the support he needed.

"This is all about trying to do the right thing, to get him back.

"We have got the best doctors, the best psychiatrists, the best psychologists all working on the case.

"We love the guy, so just give him some space." 

For help and information about depression contact Lifeline, 131 114, or www.lifeline.org.au; Beyondblue, 1300 224 636, or www.beyondblue.org.au.

with AAP

 

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