The Benetton No 9 talks moving to Italy, mental health and memorable advice  

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Downtime with… Italy scrum-half Callum Braley

You’re an ambassador for mental health organisation LooseHeadz – how did that come about? 

It was quite mutual. One of the guys who set up LooseHeadz is friends with one of the Gloucester players and I’d seen what they’re trying to achieve. In today’s world everyone is fully aware of the discussion around mental health, so I felt if I could help spread a positive message it would be a good thing to do.

How important is it that more people are talking about mental health? 

A lot of people talk about how you should open up more but how many people actually do? We need to encourage people to do it, reach out to people we care about who may not be 100%.

It’s great that people say ‘Talk more’, ‘It’s okay to feel down’, and we need to encourage people to ask genuine questions, ‘How are you really?’. The more we encourage each other to be open and honest the better.

Are you someone who is good at opening up? 

In the past, definitely not! But in the past two years I’ve tried to speak to people, tell them how I feel, and that’s helped massively. They don’t always have the answers but sharing helped. I’ve tried to be more honest with myself and others around me.

I’ve talked about how people need to be more open… My wife and I had a few miscarriages. Speaking openly to my wife, close friends and family, saying it does hurt and is sad, helped. I’d bottled it up for some time and it affected me. That’s part of my experience. Everyone goes through different things and me sharing might help someone else.

You have a son, Buddy, now. How are the family settling into life in Italy after you joined Benetton?

We’re getting there! It’s a big culture change. In England, we’d worked hard to create a life we enjoyed with two dogs, a micro pig and horses. We love the outdoor life and had lots of animals around us, so that’s been a big change.

It was hard enough to find a house to rent that would accept the two dogs, so the micro pig and horses are with people we know back in the UK.

How are you finding the language? 

I did a few Italian lessons back in England, but I found I was learning more when I was in camp with Italy, so at the moment I’m trying to pick up bits and pieces as I go along.

Who are the jokers in the squad? 

In the Benetton squad, Leo Sarto has got quite rounded humour. In the Italy squad, Jake Polledri is fairly funny. I don’t really want to say that but he is to be fair.

Do you have any nicknames? 

At Gloucester it was Breezy. Elliott Stooke came up with it. He thought of it as I have the same initials as Chris Brown (the singer whose nickname is Breezy). Since I’ve been in Italy, it’s Cally.

What’s the funniest thing you’ve heard on the pitch? 

Someone in a ruck calling out, “I’m so strong.” I don’t know if he was being serious but it was quite funny.

What really annoys you? 

Having to fill the car up with petrol! I always leave it until I have just a couple of miles left.

Any superstitions? 

I put my left sock on, then my right, then my left shoe and my right shoe. That’s all the time. I never believed in superstitions and did it out of habit, but once I didn’t do it and got a minor injury to my knee so thought, ‘Maybe it’s something I need to do.’

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? 

Jürgen Klopp. I’m a Liverpool fan and I’m interested in maybe going into coaching or managing people in some capacity, and he looks like he gets the most out of people. And maybe Lee Evans for a bit of humour.

What’s your guilty pleasure? 

Trainers. And One Direction. I love trainers. I’ve got north of 40 pairs. I don’t have all of them here but I’ve probably got 20.

Best advice you’ve ever received? 

It’s harder at the top. When I was playing at St Mary’s in Bristol, Dave Hilton, the ex-Scotland and Bristol prop, did an awards ceremony and he was talking about how people think it’s hard to get to the top but he said, “Once you get there, it’s harder to stay at the top”.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby? 

I’d just like to create a happy, thriving home. 

This article originally appeared in the November 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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