St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus has reiterated his club’s intention to take legal action against former player Lance Hohaia over his allegation that they failed to support him in the aftermath of his 2014 Grand Final assault.
Former Warriors utility Hohaia, who was knocked to the ground and then punched by Wigan’s Ben Flower in the opening moments of the Super League title decider at Old Trafford, resumed his playing career at the start of the following season before announcing his decision to retire in April 2015, citing “recurrent post-match concussion-type symptoms”.
In his first interview since his decision to quit, Hohaia claimed the Super League club refused his request for time off and said he was urged to take medication to help him continue his career.
Saints immediately issued a strong rebuttal and on Monday McManus waded into the row, expressing his incomprehension and anger at the damage he believes Hohaia’s comments have caused to the club.
“We can all appreciate and sympathise with Lance over his feelings towards Ben Flower after his savage assault in the 2014 Grand Final against Wigan,” McManus said in a statement carried on the club website.
“St Helens and its medical staff naturally did everything to treat and support him at that time and thereafter.
“However, his recent series of utterly false accusations about the club not supporting him and forcing him to play when he was not ready, is malicious and incorrect.
“His mis-statements have wrongly damaged the respected and hard earned reputation of one of the world’s great rugby league clubs.
“However, I reserve my real anger for the damage and wrongdoing to our highly reputable and leading medical and rugby staff, each of whom could not have looked after Lance more professionally.
“Their reputations, livelihoods and lives have been wrongly maligned and undermined by his utterly untrue assertions. This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by us.
“Furthermore, Lance claims he is trying to help fellow players and athletes with his assertions. To the contrary, distortion of the truth by a high profile past player can only undermine and prejudice other genuine and serious medical cases, both present and future.”
Hohaia played in eight of St Helens’ opening 11 matches of the 2015 season before announcing his decision to hang up his boots and subsequently emigrated to the United States with his American wife and two children.
McManus added: “Lance did not raise any concussive symptoms with relevant members of our staff from October 2014, when he went on holiday after the 2014 Grand Final, until April 2015, when thereafter he handed in his resignation without notice to the club or to his team-mates.
“His then retrospective assertions as to self diagnosed concussive symptoms were not supported in any way by our meticulously-kept records.
“We will not tolerate our good name and the valuable reputations and livelihoods of our top professional staff being wrongly damaged by falsehood. We will take all appropriate actions to redress and remedy the situation.