Former St Helens star Lance Hohaia will perhaps always be remembered for the wrong reasons in Super League.
A superb playmaker and the recipient of two Ben Flower punches in the 2014 Grand Final, that memory will always live with the sport – and Hohaia forever.
Though the concussion that followed eventually ended the New Zealander’s career, Hohaia did play a further eight games for Saints the season after, whilst his exit from the club remained messy.
Whilst the diminutive figure took aim at Saints for the way he was treated following the incident, the club threatened legal action.
Hohaia – who now lives in the USA – was announced as the head coach of new US club Austin Armadillos, who will participate in the first North American Rugby League competition in 2022.
But, ahead of Saturday’s Grand Final – which St Helens won for the third successive year – Hohaia had this to say:
“This time of year always brings back a lot of emotion for me. It was seven years ago today that I was punched unconscious during one of the biggest games of my sporting career,” Hohaia said.
It made headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons. Within six months, my career had ended prematurely. It certainly wasn’t how I planned to go out and it was very difficult to accept. In saying that, I had a wonderful career and I consider myself lucky to have played at that level for as long as I did.
“This is the first time I have talked about this topic publicly via my own personal platform, in my own words without utilizing the media who, in most instances, have their own agenda. Opening up about this is a way for me heal from the emotional pain I went through post my retirement. Being vulnerable takes courage. I have two young boys and I encourage them to speak about their feelings. To me, that is a strength, and it took me a long time to realize that.
“I played my part in what happened on that fateful day and I take ownership for my actions. I don’t have any animosity towards anyone and I believe that everything happens for a reason, even the bad things. I do however, regret how things ended at St Helens. I’ve had some time to reflect and looking back I wish I handled the situation differently. I was emotional, I was hurting, I had suffered a significant head injury, and I wasn’t thinking clearly for a period of time.
“Despite all that transpired, I really miss the UK and I will cherish the memories that were made during my time there. My two boys were born at Whiston Hospital in St Helens, so the town will always hold a special place in my heart. I hope to return someday to mend bridges and visit those who supported me and cared for me.
“Seven years on, at the same venue and @saints1890 have a shot at a third consecutive Super League Title, which is an amazing achievement in itself. The club has a very proud history and I am grateful that I had an opportunity to play a small part in that. I would like to wish the team and coaching staff all the very best in their quest tonight. 🏆🏆🏆
All love here ❤️✨”
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