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Long Read Interview: Rangi Chase

Rangi Chase will forever be remembered for the way he played the game in Super League.

Someone with the world at his feet, the halfback dazzled with his majestic footwork and rugby brain, but things have also been a major struggle.

After leaving Castleford Tigers for Salford Red Devils at the end of 2013, Chase was caught using cocaine and was subsequently banned, but he’s now revealed exactly why he did it.

“I’ve been done twice – my time at Salford, I was going through money issues with them,” Chase told Serious About Rugby League. “I was getting pushed out and I wasn’t getting on with the owner – I don’t think many people did.

“I had a lot of money owed and my marriage was breaking down, so I was just in a bad place not knowing at the time that I had depression. I was masking it with drink and depression, so I first started taking cocaine that year in a bid to take away the pain and the things I was going through.

“I was drinking and doing cocaine, that’s how I was dealing with things and not getting the money and the broken marriage. I had all these things coming at me and I didn’t know how to deal with it.

“I went to a game one weekend and I had been drinking and drugging mid week and then I got pulled.”

But, the problem still existed when Chase left Salford to return ‘home’ to the Jungle with the Castleford Tigers.

“I left Salford and still had that problem, and then I found myself back at Cas and I still had my issues with drinking and drugging.

“I was playing at Widnes and I had a lot of issues with not seeing my kids which really hurt me, so I was using alcohol and drugs again to take away that feeling.

“We were playing Wakefield, I had been drinking and using cocaine on the Wednesday and I went into the Thursday, trained Friday and then played Saturday and got done.

“I knew I was going to get caught – it was the worst three weeks of my life waiting for the results.”

The New Zealand-born halfback revealed just how tough it was to be ‘pushed out’ with very few people contacting him to see how he was.

“That was a a hard time as I had no help and got pushed aside – I got contacted from no one, all the clubs I had been involved in and played my all for, I had no call from – even the RFL.

“That was a really tough time and left a bitter taste of my mouth. I didn’t want anything to do with rugby anymore until Carl Hall at Doncaster came round and talked me back into playing when my ban was up.

“Most of my rugby friends, no one was there, but when I was at the top of my game everyone wanted a piece of me and wanted to get to know me and tell people that they are with you.

“But, you find out who really cares when you go through dark times, I had to go and work at a warehouse just to provide for myself and my kids.”

Chase then revealed that he has tried to take his life after feeling seriously unhappy.

“I did the same again (took drugs) and it was because I couldn’t see my kids. It was my fault because I was putting the drink and drugs in me and I was handling it the wrong way but things got too much for me and I was at a low point in my life.

“I didn’t care whether I was alive or not and went through hard times – alcohol and drugs on top of mental health and not seeing my kids, I didn’t see no point in living.”

With that being said, Chase reached out to the governing body and other important avenues and explained how it ‘saved’ his life.

“I’ve been and got help, I reached out to the RFL and GMB with Gareth Carvell, Sporting Chance and I need to give special mention to Colin Bland there which was set up by Tony Adams for pro rugby league and footballers.

“I went down there for a week and it saved my life and changed my life – I don’t drink and take drugs anymore. I’ve not touched the drink since I went to that place, it’s been over three months and it’s given me a different outlook on life.

“I’m still going through life, I’m still not seeing my kids but I’m doing the right thing about it, I’m going to court. I’m not trying to hide the pain with drinking and drugging and abusing myself – gambling, cryptocurrency and abusing there is help.

“This illness kills and it is a serious matter but I’m glad the RFL are implementing a lot of things behind mental health and I think they should be doing more as well because it seems that everyone has mental health problems, the increase is crazy.

“I lost a cousin to suicide and I once tried to take my life, it’s something that should be taken very serious.”

During his early days in Super League, Chase became one of the most well known players in the game when he won the Man of Steel award while playing for Castleford Tigers in 2011.

Recalling those days, Chase told Serious About Rugby League that he ended up being at the top of his game because he loved working under both Terry Matterson and Daryl Powell.

“I was a nobody when I went to Castleford and I became somebody and started achieving my goals and my dreams. My rugby league over here kicked off and it was awesome working under both.

“With Terry (Matterson) they didn’t have much staff and I got on great with Terry, I had a good relationship with him. He trusted me and let me play how I wanted to play – he would ask me how we would play as a team and valued my opinion, so I played great under him.

“Daryl was the same, he was tactically the best coach I’ve played under – he really studied the game and opposition. Him and his assistant Ryan Sheridan, they were students of the game and constantly studied the opposition.

“Powelly challenged you and was always challenging you to be better. He demanded respect and you wanted to play well. He came in when we came second to last and then we won five games straight.”

But, by the time Powell joined Castleford, Chase’s career at the Jungle was already over, with a deal at the end of 2013 to join Salford Red Devils materialising.

And, the 35-year-old admitted to Serious About Rugby League that his stay at Castleford turned sour when one boss took over.

“I had five years at Castleford and we weren’t achieving anything and as a player when you want to be the best you want to win the competition.

“I had won all the individual awards and wanted to win something as a team and that’s why I left, but things turned sour when Ian Millward was in charge.

“I had a great relationship with the board and then everyone was against me and it was him saying things behind my back and then saying something different to my face. The club I hold dearly in my heart, I left under terms I really didn’t want to.

“My decision was already made in my head that I needed a change because I felt like I carried that team for a few years and then I got treated like that – I felt like I needed something different.”

As mentioned, Chase then joined Salford where Marwan Koukash was building a squad many thought would be able to challenge at the top of Super League with the racehorse owner investing millions into the club.

Initially, Chase could not believe the standard of signings that the Palestine-born millionaire was bringing to the newly-branded Red Devils in 2014, with the ‘Devilution’ in full swing, as Koukash went all in to make Salford contenders.

“He sold it to me and the calibre of players he was signing was unbelievable,” Chase told Serious About Rugby League. “Gareth Hock, for example, he was the best back-rower in the competition.

“Then Tim Smith who was one of the best halves and Tony Puletua whose career speaks for itself. I was like ‘wow I want to be a part of that’ and it didn’t work out that way.”

The New Zealand-born halfback believes that Koukash got too involved and made too many rash decisions.

“I think he had too much to say on being the owner – around 21 people left in that first year. It was a lot of people including three coaches – we started off with Brian Noble, then Sean Long, then Iestyn Harris and then Ian Watson. I was only there for three years.

“He got involved too much, he made the culture hard to work with as you didn’t know who to trust. You felt like people were watching you and it didn’t end up being a good environment.”

It could have all worked out very differently for Chase though, who revealed that he almost joined another Super League side before he signed for Salford ahead of that 2014 season.

“I was going to go to Hull FC, they put an offer in for me and I probably wish I had gone there instead of Salford, but these things happen for a reason and I am who I am today because of the choices I have made,” Chase said.

“There was always talk I was leaving Cas all the time but it was just all talk. When my contract was coming to an end Hull FC came in, Peter Gentle was the coach there and I knew him from Wests Tigers.”

And, after Chase was banned for two years, he was also approached by a former head coach.

“When my ban was coming up, Warrington head coach Steve Price contacted me as he had been the under-20s coach at St George when I was there – and he said he wanted me but I had already agreed terms with Doncaster chairman Carl Hall.

“I wasn’t going to play again but then Carl Hall at Doncaster talked me into playing but then Covid came and ruined our chances to get promoted.”

Speaking on the game now, Chase revealed that he’s backing Daryl Powell to turn things around at Warrington despite their tough start to the season, while also revealing the players who he likes watching most in Super League.

“I like St Helens and the way they play but I’m a big fan of the way Powelly (Daryl Powell) coaches,” Chase said. “My head is saying Saints but my heart is saying Warrington – I think once they click with Gareth Widdop and George Williams, they will be unstoppable.

“Powelly knows how to move solid forward packs around, so once they gel you will see some great football.”

Not only was Chase willing to give his Grand Final winners, but he also predicted who he believes will lift the most prestigious individual accolade possible – the Man of Steel.

“I like watching Sam Tomkins because what he does to the defence he always picks the right pass at the back of the block play. If there’s a three-on-two he always picks the right pass and he’s probably the best defensive fullback in the game.

“He’s smart and I would like to see him win it three times.”

The 35-year-old does, however, have a soft spot for one Hull FC star in particular.

“My favourite player in the game is Jake Connor, I love the way he plays. He’s just a freak of nature, I hope Brett Hodgson gets the best out of him at Hull FC because on his day he’s unplayable.”

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