'The only way out was suicide' Former rugby star speaks out after case over sacking

Danny Sculthorpe Credit: Press Association

Danny Sculthorpe has been awarded a five-figure compensation fee for a training injury which led to Bradford cancelling a three-year contract without him ever pulling on their shirt.

Sculthorpe, 35, the younger brother of former St Helens and Great Britain forward Paul Sculthorpe, says he contemplated suicide after seeing his career ended prematurely and being "abandoned" but is now hoping his case will prompt clubs to take better care of their players.

The claim was lodged against the club's former holding company, Bradford Bulls Holdings Ltd, which is now dissolved, and was settled by its then insurance company.

It has no relation to, or impact on, the current Bulls set-up.

Sculthorpe, a prop forward who began his career at Rochdale, made 136 Super League appearances for Wigan, Castleford, Wakefield and Huddersfield before joining the Bulls in 2009 on a two-year contract with an option of a third season.

He had been on specifically-tailored training programmes at his previous clubs but he did not undergo a formal medical when joining Bradford, and despite warning both the club doctor and physiotherapist about his back problem, he was instructed to do 'bent over rowing', with 60kg barbells at one of his first sessions. It was then that Sculthorpe suffered a prolapsed disc.

Sculthorpe, who earned up to £85,000 a year at his peak, attempted a brief comeback with Widnes but soon found himself struggling financially at home.

Sculthorpe found help after opening up about his feelings with his parents and through support from the Rugby Football League.

He now works for the State of Mind charity, which established a partnership with the game after it was rocked by the death of Wigan and Great Britain hooker Terry Newton in 2010.

"I am glad I fought for this settlement, as hopefully it sends out a message to other clubs that they must look after players. "Too often players are just seen as a piece of meat."