Dale Thomas on I A C
Dale Thomas on I A C

‘Petrified’ Dale Thomas breaks down over biggest fear

Former AFL star Dale Thomas has broken down in tears before taking on a snakes challenge on I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here.

His fearful sobbing, airing on the Channel 10 show tonight, precedes a challenge where Thomas has to put his head into a box filled with snakes.

Genuinely petrified, Thomas breaks down at the thought of facing his biggest fear.

"I always disliked snakes, and how they move, and everything about them," Thomas says on the show. "If you fear something, you steer away from it as far as possible. I'm proper petrified."

I'm A Celeb co-host Chris Brown asked Thomas how it compared to facing tough opponents and adversaries on the football field.

Brown said: "You've stared down some of the most scary, adrenaline-filled moments in sport, yet it feels like this (snakes challenge) is the top of pile for you."

Dale Thomas on I A C
Dale Thomas on I A C

Thomas has made some big revelations while competing in the jungle.

He says he sought counselling at the height of his AFL career to deal with "all this s--- I'd carried around for 30 years".

"I started seeing a counsellor," the former Collingwood and Carlton champion said. "Within about a month, I was able to go in go and express myself.

"It felt like the weight of the world was off my shoulders … all this s--- that I'd carried around for 30 years.

"Every time something got worse it just stacked on and stacked on.

(But) all of a sudden, I was able to communicate it, and it didn't feel like an embarrassment."

Thomas said when he told teammates about his battles - "especially the younger boys at the footy club" - he felt supported.

"The amount of kids that came to me and said 'thank you so much'. No-one judged me one bit, and I was grateful," Thomas said.

Thomas also said there were times he cried in his car before training as he battled mental health issues.

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A split from his partner meant he barely had the chance to see his daughter, Matilda.

"The lowest point was going through the split with the missus in pre-season, my daughter being sort of removed from my care," he said. "Having to deal with that, while trying to be a professional athlete, at that point I didn't really care.

"I was going to do the job but I hated it.

"There were times where I'd rock up to training and sit in the car in tears, then rock up and be court jester to try and hide it.

"I was liked for that but I knew I was being a fraud, so that ate away at me as well.

"I knew I was sad, I didn't know what to do."

Thomas announced his retirement from the game at the end of last season.

Dale Thomas on I A C
Dale Thomas on I A C