Help a Mate

You’d always ask a mate how they were feeling if they’d pulled a muscle or were out for a couple of weeks with a broken rib. Asking how they’re feeling if they seem stressed or down is exactly the same.

Having a kōrero

Starting a kōrero can feel tricky but by checking in and sharing what you’ve noticed you could make a massive difference to how they’re feeling. Check out the steps below to help guide your chat. 


  • Use simple open questions. “How are you doing?” or “what’s been going on lately?”.
  • Be specific about what you’ve noticed. “You seem quieter than usual, is everything ok?”.
  • Ask again. If someone says they’re OK but your gut tells you differently, ask again later.


  • Show you’re listening. Repeat back what they’re saying in your own words.
  • Acknowledge how they feel. “That sounds really hard” or “That doesn’t sound easy, its good we can chat about it”.
  • Be patient. If they need time to think, sit with them and let them know they can take their time.


  • Encourage action by asking. “What’s something that has helped in the past?” or “How could I support you?”.
  • Support them to find help. If they’ve been feeling that way for 2 weeks or more, it might be time to speak to an expert. Let them know you can do that together.

Check back in

  • Lock in time to catch up again. Make sure you take responsibility to lock-in when you’ll catch up next, be specific about a day and time.
  • Set your own reminder. Before you catch up next, set a reminder on your phone to text and check in on how they are.

When someone is going through a tough time, it can be hard for them to be the one to reach out and ask for help. There can be worries of being judged, feeling embarrassed or just not being sure what to say. Playing rugby can also bring with it some ideas about how we should act or behave. 

By taking the lead and asking a mate how they’re doing you can take the pressure off and let them know it’s okay to kōrero about what’s going on.

Tips for having a conversation

Knowing how to start a conversation when you’re worried about a mate can be tough. The tips below are a good place to start to help make having a conversation easier for both of you:

  • Pick a place that is quiet to chat
  • Make sure you have the time set aside if they do want to talk
  • Listen hard to what they’re saying, save any advice for later
  • Show they have your full attention by not fiddling with your phone or doing other things
  • Try asking open-ended questions such as “How are you feeling?”, “What makes you think that?”, “Can you describe that a little more?”

The next step is to support them to get help if they need it. Have a look below for information on how to do that. 

Support them to get help

If you or your friend think they need help with how they’re feeling, talk to them about the possibility of asking for help. You could suggest they talk to a family member, a coach, their GP or someone they trust.

They could also look at the list of support people we have on the site who they can contact if they feel uncomfortable talking to someone they know. See that list here.

If the first person doesn’t work, then help them to find another. You can find a lot of different information and helpful tips on this website that will make things a little easier for them, as well as helping you understand more too.

Worried about your partner, child or a player?

Whether you’re a partner, parent, coach or someone who spends time around rugby and those who play, it can be challenging to know how best to support the person you care about.

Even though you might be able to see when things are going wrong it can be difficult to start a conversation, especially if you’re not sure how they’ll react.

Some of the tips on this website can be extremely useful. If you would like to know more about some of the ways you can offer support, have a look at some of the information for parents, coaches and partners.