Saints reject Hohaia claims

Lance Hohaia says Saints failed to support him after he was attacked by Wigan's Ben Flower during the 2014 Super League Grand Final

Lance Hohaia says Saints failed to support him after he was attacked by Wigan's Ben Flower during the 2014 Super League Grand Final

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Saints have reacted angrily to claims by former player Lance Hohaia that the club failed to support him after his Grand Final assault by Ben Flower.

The stand-off was knocked to the ground then punched by the Wigan prop forward during the 2014 Super League Grand Final.

Ben Flower punches Lance Hohaia as he lies defenceless on the ground

Ben Flower punches Lance Hohaia as he lies defenceless on the ground

He made a handful of appearances the following season but retired in April last year citing “recurrent post-match concussion-type symptoms”.

Now the 32-year-old New Zealander says Saints denied his request for time off to fully recover from the injury and instead told him to take medication so he could continue playing.

“I had tests but, with concussion and brain injuries, there is not an exact science,” Hohaia told the New Zealand Herald. “The tests were inconclusive but I needed some time.

“Unfortunately Saints chose not to support me through that time and that hurt me a lot.

“I was offered prescription medicines to help with the headaches. I wasn’t comfortable with that, as it was masking a bigger problem.

“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.”

However, Saints have refuted Hohaia’s version of events and said Hohaia was now taking legal action against his former club.

A club spokesman said: “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.

“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. St Helens set the very highest standards in that regard.

“His decision to retire was entirely his and his resignation was without due notice to the club. It was he, and not the club, that later put the matter in the hands of solicitors.

“His assertions were totally without merit or foundation and he then decided not to take the matter further. His retrospective version of events bore little, if any, relation to our detailed professional records.

“We are totally outraged that now, some nine months after his voluntary resignation, he regurgitates his grossly inaccurate and misrepresentative assertions against St Helens in a New Zealand newspaper whilst he is resident in the United States.

“It is particularly despicable that he has publicly so wrongly and maliciously impugned St Helens and its highly professional and caring staff who provided him with support and understanding, and simply because he was clearly not entitled to continue to be paid by the club after he voluntarily resigned.

“Such malicious and public misrepresentation is clearly highly damaging to the highly respected and valuable name and reputation of St Helens and to the reputations of our first rate professional staff. We will review all possible actions open to us and seek due redress from all relevant parties.”