St Helens have refuted claims by former New Zealand international Lance Hohaia that he was mistreated by the English Super League club and forced to retire prematurely.
Hohaia, 32, retired in early 2015, citing ongoing concussion symptoms.
The former Warriors’ NRL star claimed St Helens pressured him to make a quick return to the field early that season despite suffering from headaches and memory loss.
He told the New Zealand Herald on Sunday he had never recovered from being knocked out in the 2014 Super League final via a punch from Wigan forward Ben Flower.
Concussion symptoms were largely ignored by St Helens officals, Hohaia told the newspaper.
“I needed a period of time to heal but I wasn’t given that choice. The option was, take the medication and play … or walk away,” Hohaia said.
St Helens responded in a statement with “astonishment and outrage” at the claims.
“Hohaia’s version of events at St Helens between the grand final in 2014 and his voluntary resignation without notice six months later is utterly inaccurate and malicious,” the statement said.
“Throughout that time he received the highest level of professional support and empathy, both rugby and medical. His subsequent version of ongoing ‘concussive symptoms’ were entirely retrospective and only raised by him at the end of that period.
“At no time was he put under any pressure or duress by the club to play and he was provided with highest level of professional advice and support by the club.”
Utility playmaker Hohaia joined St Helens in 2012 after 10 seasons in the NRL with the Auckland-based Warriors.