Shontayne Hape confirms retirement from rugby and calls for action on concussion
Former England centre Shontayne Hape has warned about the dangers of concussion after finally admitting he has retired.
Last Updated: 01/06/14 11:06am
Hape's last professional game was last year for Montpellier and, although he took medical advice to quit in January, he is only now revealing his decision and he shocking reasons for it.
The 33-year-old cross-code star says he was regularly pressured to return quickly from head injuries and claims players routinely cheated cognitive tests designed to monitor their brain function throughout the season.
And Hape said his own condition got so bad he could not remember his PIN number and was left with "depression, constant migraines and memory loss".
Writing in the New Zealand Herald Hape, who won 13 caps during his union career, said: "My memory was shot.
"The specialist explained that my brain was so traumatised, had swollen so big, that even just getting a tap to the body would knock me out. I had to retire immediately.
"I was thinking I'd rest for a year and then make a come back. That's why I never told anyone I was retired. I still couldn't accept it was over.
"There was constant pressure from the coaches (to play). Most coaches don't care what happens later on in your life. It's about the here and now. Everyone wants success.
"They just think, 'If we pay you this you are going to do this'. Players are just pieces of meat. When the meat gets too old and past its use by date, the club just buys some more."
Hape also challenged union and league bosses to do more to ensure players do not conceal the severity of their concussion.
He said: "In England it is a standard procedure for all players to perform a computerised pre-season head test. The test establishes a baseline score that you'll have to match later in the season if you cop a head knock.
"The problem with the test is that players can manipulate it by under-performing so that later if you have a head knock and you have to beat it you normally can.
"This is an issue people, particularly young players, need to know about. More people need to speak out about it, tell the truth if they are suffering. Most players won't, though, for fear of being thought of as soft or because of the financial pressures.
"Rugby and league have come a long way in dealing with concussion but there is still a lot further to go."