Star Penrith centre Jamal Idris says he is enjoying his football as much as ever after taking time out due to depression.

Penrith star Jamal Idris says he is enjoying his football more than ever after taking time out from the NRL this year to deal with personal issues, including depression.

Speaking to the media for the first time since missing a month of football in June, Idris has emerged as a key figure in the Panthers’ unexpected assault on a top-four spot.

In the week after Newcastle’s representative utility Darius Boyd was released from a mental health facility following treatment for depression, and Wests Tigers skipper Robbie Farah took personal leave to seek counselling, Idris said his time away from the game had reinvigorated him.

“It is a long season so that time off definitely refreshed me,” Idris said.

“It was tough at the end of the day missing the boys but this was the right decision for the team as well.

“I have come back better.

“The support has been awesome. Gus (Panthers supremo Phil Gould) is a top bloke and we are quite the same in a lot of ways so we really understand each other.

“26 rounds, it can get really daunting towards the back end of the season, so the more joy you can get out of footy, the better.

“When I run out onto the field and that feeling you get when the crowd cheers, I always say to the boys, you don’t want to be anywhere else.”

Idris said the time away gave him a chance to examine what was important to him.

“I went walkabout,” he said.

“Let’s just say I looked at life and at a few things to better myself.

“Everything is going well; I can’t complain. I’m just looking at every game that is coming up ahead and not trying to slacken off and not get ahead of things before the finals.”

Boyd has played his last game for 2014 and, with his future up in the air, Idris says the Queensland and Australian representative has to be certain he wants to return to the NRL.

“It can happen to anyone. No one is exempt from depression. It is definitely nothing to be ashamed of,” he said.

“Everyone deals with it in different ways. Some people go out publicly; some people keep it private – just as long as you have someone to talk to.

“I haven’t spoken to him (Boyd); that is his business. It is up to him when he returns as long as he has good people around him and he wants to do it.”