Leading players seek Hape's help

By Steve Deane

Response amazing says star who gave harrowing account of mental health fears after multiple concussions.

Shontayne Hape.
Shontayne Hape.

Several current international rugby and league players have reached out to Shontayne Hape for advice following his shocking revelation of his concussion-enforced retirement.

"I won't name their names but current and past players have got in touch with me saying 'great story, I think I need to get my head checked out - where did you go and who did you see?'" Hape said.

The former Warriors and Kiwis league star and England rugby union representative's harrowing account of his ongoing battle with concussion - published in Saturday's Weekend Herald - has been widely endorsed by the rugby and league communities after going global on social networking site Twitter. Superstars Sonny Bill Williams, Dan Carter and Sam Burgess are the latest to draw attention to it via their Twitter feeds.

"The response has been amazing," Hape said. "I have been taken aback by how [my story] has affected so many different people.

"I can't keep up. My Twitter feed is constantly generating. It has gone crazy. That is the power of Twitter. It is kind of cool."

Hape's revelation of current test stars requesting assistance comes as star flanker Kieran Read withdrew from the All Blacks squad to face England due to a recurrence of concussion-related symptoms.

Read, who has suffered several concussions during his career, missed four games for the Crusaders after suffering a blow to the head against the Chiefs on April 19.

He returned to action for the Crusaders at the weekend and reportedly felt fine, only to withdraw from the All Blacks yesterday after suffering dizziness.

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Read spoke to the Herald about his concussion issues in 2012.

"It's something you try not to think about as a footy player. Who knows how I'll end up but I guess I'll just try to look after myself and recover as well as I can," he said. "It's all about recovery these days, so who knows what effect it is having later on down the line."

Hape, who has suffered memory loss and has expressed fears for his future mental health, said he hoped people who read about his struggles would learn from his mistakes, which included under-reporting symptoms to team doctors.

"I haven't had one piece of bad feedback yet. People are just saying 'thanks for opening our eyes and helping to educate the players of today'."

He said he wouldn't stop his three sons playing rugby or league.

"It's one of the consequences of the sport but it can be prevented by being honest.

"It's about putting your health first."

Fears for future

• International rugby and league players seek concussion help.
• Shontayne Hape warns others not to make the mistakes he made.
• Hape forced into early retirement fearing for his future mental health.

- NZ Herald

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