Lance Hohaia dramatic retirement from rugby league was caused by Ben Flower’s sickening Grand Final assault, it has emerged.
Super League champions St Helens announced the 32-year-old former New Zealand international was retiring with immediate effect, a little more than six months since being knocked unconscious by Wigan forward Ben Flower in the Grand Final.
Saints declined to offer an explanation for the surprise development other than to say it was the player’s own decision - but Hohaia told the BBC he is seeking medical advice.
He said: “I have been experiencing recurrent post match concussion-type symptoms since returning to play.
“I am seeking medical advice to understand any potential effects to my long-term health.”
In a statement, the club said: “St Helens announce that Lance Hohaia has informed us of his retirement from rugby league and will therefore not play for the club again.
I have been experiencing recurrent post match concussion-type symptoms since returning to playLance Hohaia
“Lance has been a valued and integral member of the squad for the last three and a half years and we thank him for his service.
“We wish him and his family well in their life after rugby league with St Helens.
“St Helens will make no further comment on this matter.”
Hohaia’s club career reached a high in October when he helped St Helens reach the Grand Final at Old Trafford but his involvement lasted less than two minutes after he was twice punched by Flower in the opening moments of the match.
Flower was handed a six-month ban, which ended earlier this month, while the St Helens half-back was given a one-game ban for provoking the Welsh international.
Hohaia recovered from his knock in time to collect his winners’ ring after the final whistle and served his ban in a pre-season friendly.
He made 81 appearances for Saints in a variety of positions, including full-back, hooker and half-back, and played an influential role in the absence of playmaker Luke Walsh in helping them reach the 2014 Grand Final. His final appearance in Super League was in Saints’ 11-8 win at Huddersfield on April 12.
Hohaia won 29 caps for the Kiwis from 2002-11 and was in the team that beat Australia in the final of the 2008 World Cup in Brisbane.
He also made 185 appearances for New Zealand Warriors from 2002 to 2011, when he joined St Helens on a four-year deal.
Hohaia, who was out of contract at the end of the season and, unlikely to be offered a new deal, had spoken about moving to the United States to start a new life with his America-born wife and two young boys, who were both born in England.
He has been studying a diploma in management as he prepares for life after rugby and recently spoke about the prospect of retirement.
“It’s a discussion I’ll have with my wife and we’ll make the best decision for our family,” he said earlier this month.
“Priorities change a bit when you have children and when you get to this stage of my career but I’ve left the door open for the opportunities that are there.”