Chris Guider holds a unique piece of rugby league history - the only man to play in three grand finals on the same day for St George in 1985.
But just a year later, Guider made the fateful decision to retire at just 24 when he became ‘brain-washed’ by the Church of Scientology.
“I loved the footy but the church wanted me to quit,” Guider explained to me years later.
“They said football wasn’t as important as what they were doing. Looking back, it was a bad decision but I was young and was under their spell and even though Saints offered me great money, I said no.
“I signed a contract with the church for a billion years (laughs).
“The church believes in reincarnation so you are basically committing a series of lifetimes to the church. I joined in Sydney and in 1989 I went to the USA and spent 18 years over there. I got quite high in the church.
“The church had some high profile followers and knew how valuable they were to their image and their chances of getting more followers. I helped John Travolta get fit for a movie role by training him at the church’s California property and I also played basketball with Tom Cruise. You got to meet a lot of interesting people from diverse cultures.
“But things went sour - I got close to the guy running the church and came to see him for what he was - a little Hitler who was very money-orientated. He was into punishing people and I witnessed people getting beaten. Once I was with him when a guy was editing a video.
He didn’t like the video and told me to beat the guy. I refused and that didn’t go down well.
“I was sent back to Sydney to what the church called a ‘rehabilitation ‘program in Dundas. It was more like a prison. It was very strict and you couldn’t read the newspaper or listen to music. I worked 15 hour days and got paid $2 a week... in a good week. They took my passport so I couldn’t leave the country... they didn’t even let me go to the bank.
“I probably could have walked away but I am stubborn and I have endurance. I don’t like to quit something just because I can. I like to think ‘you can’t keep me down’.
“Some good did come out of it though - I met my wife Valeska and we helped each other through that disgusting period in our lives. We had two kids and life was good again. She has her own horror story of the church - she was like a slave on a ship owned by the church and kept there for years. She was sent there when she was just 14 because her mother upset the church. She wasn’t allowed off the ship for years and when they did eventually allow her off the ship, it was with an escort.
“Because we dared to speak out about what they do, we are now enemies of the church. They call us ‘suppressive individuals’ and say we are evil. Church members are barred from speaking to us. I am just glad we are out. I was involved for 24 years and it takes time to get back into normal society after that. It’s not easy putting that sort of trauma behind you, but we are getting there.”