WARRINGTON Wolves stars are to feature in a new comic that is the brainchild of retired player Keith Mason.

Luther Burrell and Daryl Clark will be among the Super League players characterised in 'Rugby Blood Origins'.

The first issue of the first rugby league comic is released today, to coincide with Super League’s successful #TackleTheToughStuff campaign, which comes to an end this weekend after the final Wellbeing Round of matches.

In the comic, former Super League and NRL forward Mason aims to shed light on some of the mental health problems faced by professional sportsmen.

The story is loosely based on his own life.

Since his retirement in 2013, Mason has encountered depression, debt and homelessness.

Rugby Blood Origins will also feature Jake Connor(Hull FC), Konrad Hurrell(Leeds Rhinos), Jermaine McGillvary(Huddersfield Giants), Mark Percival (St Helens) and Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers).

Mason said: “I wanted to feature current and ex-players, not only to raise their profile, but to raise awareness about the real struggles athletes go through.

“I wanted to highlight to people that when one door closes in your life, you have to work hard, dedicate yourself and make the right sacrifices to open a new door.”

Warrington Guardian:

Keith Mason in his playing days for Huddersfield Giants

Background to the birth of the comic

After an extensive playing career at the top level of rugby league, Mason found himself at a crossroads.

It was 2013, his time with Wakefield Trinity, Melbourne Storm, St Helens, Castleford Tigers and Huddersfield Giants at an end.

Depression, debt and homelessness followed.

Mason said: “What I didn’t anticipate was the struggle I’d ultimately go through after retiring.

“I’d devoted my life to it – but I ended up questioning my whole existence.

“I was struggling – and all that led to depression.

“I lost two houses and found myself in massive debt. I lost my driving licence and I was struggling to see my kids.

“It came to a point where I knew it was time to give up or reinvent myself.”

In the latter part of his playing career Mason had started acting.

He played the character Steiner in 'A Hitman in London', alongside his friend, Mickey Rourke.

The 37-year-old was also asked to go and speak to a fellow former player in a similar situation.

For that person the struggle became too much, and it was ultimately his death that motivated Mason to change and want to help other players.

Rugby Blood was born.

The story centres around David King, a professional rugby league star and entrepreneur who is thrust into a deadly game when his family is kidnapped and held for ransom.

Mason added: “It started as a film script, written by myself and [scriptwriter, director] Ben Von Cronos - but I didn’t want to stop at a film.

“I wanted it to be bigger and to have more of an impact.

“I decided to find an artist who could help me create the first ever rugby comic, so together with [comic artist] Paul Roperwe brought the story to life.

“I wanted to use real players to be able to connect with the audience and make the players stars.”

Rugby Blood is published on July 12 and is available to purchase via online retailers, including Amazon


To find out more about Super League’s Tackle The Tough Stuff Campaign, click