Jacques O’Neill visits former rugby club after quitting Love Island

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Jacques O’Neill has stopped off at his former rugby club after landing in the UK following his stint on Love Island.

The 23-year-old rugby player announced his shock exit from the ITV2 dating show during Tuesday’s episode, telling his fellow islanders he needed to “get back to himself”.

In emotional scenes, he said his exit was the best thing for his relationship with 24-year-old Welsh paramedic Paige Thorne.

Castleford Tigers confirmed that he visited the Super League club during a training session on Wednesday and that he will be able to receive support from their welfare office if he wishes to.

During a press conference on Wednesday, the club’s coach, Lee Radford said: “He’s been in this morning to see the boys – I don’t know who dressed him, I think he’s come in fancy dress today, but no, he’s come in to say hi to the lads.

“The boys were really pleased to see him.”

Days before entering the villa, the rugby club confirmed the release of hooker Jacques from his contract to be on the reality show – confirming they would have the first option to re-sign him if he wanted to resume his career.

When asked about re-signing, Mr Radford joked: “I think he’ll want to make a couple of million first and then maybe dip his toe into rugby league, we’ll have to see.

“He seemed pretty busy this morning, he was on the phone a fair bit.

Lee Radford
Lee Radford (Danny Lawson/PA)

“It’s not something we’ve spoke about, obviously it only happened last night, he flew home last night.

“He looked jaded, he’d had no sleep, obviously all the euphoria of doing what he’s been doing, I suppose, that’s probably a conversation for further down the line, I think.”

Speaking about Jacques leaving the hit show to protect his mental health, Radford said: “Like any walk of life there are obstacles in front of you, unfortunately. Making sure people are around you, whether that be your family or club-related, to help you deal with that is pretty important.”

Speaking about his own experience of mental health, Radford added: “Criticism you tend to keep it within yourself and use it as a motivator, I think that’s a generational thing.

“I think it’s more open and spoke about now than it probably ever has been. I think I am probably from a different generation.”

A statement from the rugby club confirmed Jacques had been in communication with the Tigers’ welfare officer in advance of appearing on the TV show and that “this support will continue to be offered to him” adding: “Alongside the welcoming nature of our first team environment, of which he has been a part since the age of 16.”

It went on: “Castleford Tigers’ primary focus with Jacques at this stage will be to support him.”

“All at the club look forward to welcoming Jacques and his mother, Janet, to The Mend-A-Hose Jungle for a Betfred Super League match very soon, to cheer on the Fords.”

Jacques, from Cumbria, is the ex-partner of former Liverpool striker Michael Owen’s daughter Gemma, and before entering the villa he said he falls in love “quick”.

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