Former NRL and Wallabies great Mat Rogers opens up about the devastating illness that left him in crippling pain and fearing for his life: ‘I thought I was going to die’
- Mat Rogers thought he was ‘going to die’ when crippling pain affected him this year
- Former NRL star was diagnosed with seronegative inflammatory arthritis
- Rodgers won a combined 56 caps for the Kangaroos and Wallabies
- His late father Steve Rogers was a Kangaroo and Cronulla great
Former NRL great Mat Rogers thought he was ‘going to die’ when an autoimmune disease left his body in crippling pain and feared he might have to say goodbye to his family.
The 46-year-old began suffering from seronegative inflammatory arthritis earlier this year.
The condition, also known as spondyloarthritis, is a joint disease of the spine whose symptoms include pain, morning stiffness, fatigue, fever and low appetite.
Former NRL great Mat Rogers has opened up about an illness that left him fearing for his life
But while the symptoms are similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis, the way the two conditions affect the body is very different.
While rheumatoid arthritis generally affects small joints such as the hands and feet, spondyloarthritis is more likely to start in the lower back or shoulders.
Speaking ahead of the release of his new book, ‘A Father’s Son’, Rogers recalled how a mild shoulder niggle soon turned into excruciating pain.
‘I thought I should die. I literally got a condition where my immune system started attacking my joints and I was like an old man,” the former double code star shared. Courier mail.
The dual code star won 45 caps for the Wallabies during a five-year stint in rugby union
Rogers played 12 seasons in the NRL with Cronulla and the Gold Coast Titans (above)
Rogers (left) was involved in promoting Australia’s 2027 Rugby World Cup bid last year alongside former Wallabies teammate Lote Tuqiri (right)
‘It started quite mildly in my shoulder, and then it spread to my body a bit. I thought that was it, I thought I had some kind of blood cancer.’
The former dual-code star, who played a combined 12 seasons with Cronulla and the Gold Coast Titans in the NRL and five seasons with the New South Wales Waratahs in rugby union, feared he might leave his five children and wife too soon.
“It was definitely a very quiet time for reflection going through it with my kids,” said Rogers, who won 11 caps for the Kangaroos and 45 for the Wallabies.
‘My mum was my age when she died and given what it did to us I was really worried.’
In his book, Rogers also delves into the relationship with his late father, Steve. The former Cronulla great and Kangaroos captain died in 2006
In the book, Rogers also opens up about his relationship with his late father, Cronulla great and former Kangaroos captain Steve Rogers, who died in 2006.
“I didn’t have an easy childhood and I’ve always resented it to be honest,” he said.
‘That was how my father’s relationship was with me, it was hard. As a child, it was hard to get dad’s approval or to say I’m proud of you.