Former New Zealand prop Carl Hayman joins class action highlighting concussion-related illness

Former New Zealand prop Carl Hayman joins class action highlighting concussion-related illness
Carl Hayman talks to the media during the European Rugby Champions Cup press conference at Twickenham Stadium on 1 May 2015 in London, England. (Photo: Andrew Redington / Getty Images)

Carl Hayman has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 41, shining the spotlight on concussion-related illness in ex-rugby players.

Carl Hayman, who played the last of his 45 tests at the 2007 World Cup, revealed to sport website The Bounce that he had also been diagnosed with probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

“I spent several years thinking I was going crazy. At one stage that’s genuinely what I thought,” Hayman said. “It was the constant headaches and all these things going on that I couldn’t understand.”

Hayman, whose playing career ended six years ago with French club Toulon, has struggled with alcohol abuse and was given a suspended prison sentence in 2019 after admitting to charges of domestic violence.

He has joined a class action lawsuit being prepared by former players alleging rugby federations, including global governing body World Rugby, failed to protect them from the risks of concussion. Many former rugby players have been diagnosed with permanent brain damage, early-onset dementia, depression or symptoms and signs of CTE.

World Rugby said in July it would partner with independent healthcare experts, unions and player associations to offer brain healthcare to former players as part of a new welfare plan.

Hayman said he had hesitated before accepting offers to have his brain tested for damage.

“I ummed and aahed for about 12 months about whether I’d do anything about it… It would be pretty selfish of me to not speak up … when I could help a guy in New Zealand perhaps who doesn’t understand what’s happening to him and has no support network to lean on.” Reuters/DM168

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