McManus: Hohaia claims are ‘incomprehensible’

Saints chairman Eamonn McManus
Saints chairman Eamonn McManus

Saints chairman Eamonn McManus has issued a strongly-worded statement blasting Lance Hohaia’s claims he was let down by the club.

Hohaia, 32, alleges Saints failed to support him after he suffered a concussion-type injury in the 2014 Grand Final when Wigan prop Ben Flower punched him as he lay on the ground.

Ben Flower punches Lance Hohaia and is subsequently the first man to be sent off in a Super League Grand Final

Ben Flower punches Lance Hohaia and is subsequently the first man to be sent off in a Super League Grand Final

Saints have denied his claims, insisting their staff acting in a “highly professionally”.

Now Mr McManus, who was instrumental in bring Hohaia to St Helens from New Zealand Warriors in 2012, has joined the row, branding the Kiwi’s claims as “unacceptable”.

He added: "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.

“St Helens and its medical staff naturally did everything to treat and support him at that time and thereafter.

Ex-Saints ace Lance Hohaia

Ex-Saints ace Lance Hohaia

“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 misstatements 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 that 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.

“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 teammates.

“His then retrospective assertions as to self diagnosed concussive symptoms were not supported in any way by our meticulously kept records.

“In the months before his resignation, in addition to being a full time rugby league player, he studied for a business degree in preparation for his planned new life and career in the United States.

“This was an impressive continuing achievement, but again utterly irreconcilable with his subsequent claims as to his wellbeing. Nevertheless, the Club still paid for his accommodation and cars after he had resigned and stayed in England in order to complete successfully his studies.

“However, he demanded to be continued to be paid a salary by the Club after had unilaterally resigned and terminated his services as a rugby player.

“This was as unbelievable as it was unjustifiable. He instructed various firms of solicitors, none of whom progressed his unfounded claims. St Helens and its staff supported Lance Hohaia at all times, as we do with all our players. That is the nature of a club of the very highest professional standing and standards, and this reputation is recognised as such throughout the sport.

“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. If we do not, the sport has no future.”