Brisbane Broncos captain Alex Glenn has hit out at social media trolls, revealing some of his players have received online death threats as the club struggles through one of its worst periods on record.
The Broncos slumped to their fifth straight loss since the NRL season resumed over the weekend, when they were booed from the field by fans following a poor showing against fellow struggles the Titans.
But the criticism has taken an ugly turn with players the subject to vile online abuse, skipper Glenn revealed on Tuesday.
"Certain teammates are getting death threats on social media. People can have their judgments but that is not acceptable," he said.
"I am a big ambassador on mental health. No one should be told to go do something harmful to themselves for the way they are playing."
The Broncos have long been one of the powerhouse clubs of the NRL and sported a loyal fanbase that during pre-COVID times would flock to Suncorp Stadium to watch the team play.
Glenn said that while he was able to switch off and stay clear of social media, some of the team's younger players had clearly been shaken by the abuse that had come their way.
"I have been in the industry a long time and I can switch off on social media, I can deal with the pressures but some of the younger boys can't," he said.
"Some are 21 years old, they are put in the limelight. When they get those comments ... I know deep down it affects them mentally - it hurts them and it hurts their families when they read it."
Glenn had on Monday night posted a passionate response on social media himself, taking aim at the level of "bullying" that was occurring across the NRL.
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Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about us but don't ever think we are happy with losing. You think your hurting watching us lose 5 game's in a row? Try turning up every single day, working your ass off to prepare well and things still don't go our way on the night, then have to deal with the criticism left right and centre from the media, spectators & fans. We get it we ain't playing well but we ain't quitting on nothing. Before you be quick to judge and take your anger out over social media put yourself in the other persons shoes and think about people's mental state and the impact it could possibly have on those you want to share your thoughts with. I will always defend my mates and others being a victim of bullying. P.s THANK YOU to our fans who turned up to support us on Saturday night at Suncorp & our fans that stand with us through the lows times, we feel you and see you, you are the real mvp's and when we bounce back it'll be for you guys. 👊🏾 #Bronxnation #itaintweaktospeak #stopsocialmediabullying
"I have just had enough," he said.
"And it's not just my teammates, it is friends from other teams (getting death threats).
"I understand it is a tough industry, we get paid to be professional athletes and we should be performing every week, but no one deserves to be told they should kill themselves.
"That's the issue. I was putting my foot down on that."
The Broncos face the Warriors in Gosford in Round 8 this weekend.