Brisbane skipper Darius Boyd has issued a dire warning to ruthless social media critics, warning it will take an NRL player taking his own life for them to lay off.
Boyd is a passionate advocate for mental health and has often spoken about his battle with depression and mental demons.
The 32-year-old has been a lightning rod for criticism during the Broncos' disappointing 2019 season which culminated with a 58-0 thrashing at the hands of Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium.
Some have questioned Boyd's future, despite him having two years left on his deal - and he once again reiterated his desire to play on next year.
Boyd was also bracing for a torrent of criticism after the Broncos' inglorious exit at the hands of the Eels.
He said he was well prepared to handle the tidal wave of condemnation but issued a heartfelt plea to those on social media and in the media, warning that it could lead to a player taking his own life.
"Negative talk isn't great but I don't live in a rugby league bubble. I've got a great support network," Boyd said.
"I've got a kind heart, I care about other people. I've got a really positive mindset and I think about gratitude all the time.
"Those few things get me through. I don't read the crap because a lot of it is crap.
"It's disappointing because someone will probably do something silly and take their own life for mental health issues.
"I'm a big advocate for that (mental health). That might have to happen, which is very unfortunate if it does, for people to lay off on social media or mainstream media.
"We're all football players, we all do our best each week. Tonight we didn't do our best but we tried hard. The effort was there.
"We've got it wrong heaps of times this year but that doesn't mean we're less of a person."
Boyd made a mid-year switch from fullback to five-eighth, though it has been speculated that he could end his career in the centres.
He described himself as a team man and said he was willing to play anywhere that coach Anthony Seibold asked him.
He also predicted he would be better with a pre-season under his belt in the five-eighth position.
Boyd also slapped down the repeated suggestions that Sunday's record loss to the Eels could be the last game of his career, saying he was determined to play on.
"I'm definitely going to play on," Boyd said.
"I'm in a new position, so having a pre-season there will be good.
"The last 10 weeks, me and (Jake Turpin) as a new halves combination managed to get into the finals.
"It's on the back of a strong forward back and some young outside backs. Whatever happens next year, the club's got a bright future."
Lifeline 13 11 14
beyondblue 1300 22 4636
Australian Associated Press