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Canberra centre Sebastian Kris said stepping away from the game to treat his mental health “like an injury” is what enabled him to grow as a player and find his form for the men in green.

The 23-year-old outside back made the tough call to take time away from the game after making his NRL debut in 2019, sitting out all of the 2020 season to drive a van around the nation's capital “to clear his head”.

“I think I was losing myself and that’s when I decided to take a step back to focus on my mental health," Kris told

“My relationships off the field were impeding my footy and I wasn’t able to separate my personal and work life and I was struggling.

“So I left the game and began working as a courier driver."

At an age that many would describe as the pinnacle for rugby league rookies, Kris joined the Canberra workforce as a delivery driver to find the perspective and purpose he had lost during vulnerable years.

Canberra centre Sebastian Kris.
Canberra centre Sebastian Kris. ©Brett Costello/NRL Photos

“The biggest lesson was the day-to day-grind. I was working six days a week, waking up early so I got in a routine and had to stick with it no matter what I was feeling," he said.

“It wasn't what I expected I'd be doing, but I was showing up and earning money and I think that gave me a perspective on life that I needed.

“I did take a lot for granted growing up and having that little bump in the road made me realise what I wanted in life and I became determined to chase that.”

When Kris contemplating giving rugby league another crack, he first began training with the Raiders' Under 21 NSW Cup ranks before Ricky Stuart offered him a train and trial deal in the 2021 pre-season.

Crafty Kris in form against Titans

Barely 18-months since returning to the big stage and the explosive centre is enjoying a year season, playing 15 games and scoring ten tries for Ricky Stuart’s Green Machine in his finest season to date.

“I didn’t tell anyone I was going to try come back, I just started training after work at the gym and then with reserve grade,” he said.

“Jack Wighton was someone who took me under his wing and helped me get back and now I’m starting to see all the things he has taught me.

“Looking back now, I do think it was the best thing for me. I was lost and it was really tough to make that decision to take a step back but people take time away from the game for physical injuries all the time and I needed a mental break I suppose.

I’m proud of myself and how far I’ve come. I guess tough times breed tough people and I’m mentally a lot tougher now.

Raiders centre Sebastian Kris

Kris will be hoping to continue delivering for his side this Sunday with Canberra heading into a must-win match against the Knights to keep their finals hopes alive.

"I think it’ll be a good contest against Knights. We’ll keep trying to do what we do best and give them a good run,' Kris said.

"I just want to focus on quicker hands and putting my winger away, identifying when I want the ball and identifying it and calling it.

"I’m still quite shy around the ground but each week I'm becoming more confident and I hope I can stay physically and mentally strong these next few weeks.

"This jersey means everything to me and I know it's the same for the boys. So we'll be fight to the end no matter what."

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.