Former Wallabies centre Anthony Fainga’a has announced his retirement from all rugby.
The 32-year-old, who played 23 Tests for Australia, spoke to Fox Sports News on Wednesday after making the decision and shared some scary stories regarding his multiple brain injuries.
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It’s not spoken about enough nor is it encouraged to be spoken about enough.. Professional sport especially rugby have often been seen as a place where vulnerability is a sign of weakness and a mental health condition as a private battle to be fought but not spoken about. The REAL me is someone who has struggled with mental health throughout my career due to multiple concussions. The public sees what the media shows them and it’s time as an athlete to speak out, show vulnerability and attempt to make a difference. Athlete or not, they are a person, like you, they have unseen struggles that affect their livelihood and those around them. #mentalhealth #rugby #standproud #concussionawareness
“I’m probably only one more head knock away from being a vegetable or not being able to play with my kids,”
“After a couple of really big head knocks, I had to make a big decision.
“In 2016, my twin brother (fellow former Wallaby Saia) got married and at the altar, I was actually getting held up because of the head knocks.
“I received a couple of really big head knocks over my career and I was standing at the altar getting held up, I got walked out by someone.
“I got a few head knocks last year and after all these head knocks I had to make a decision, make a choice about what I wanted to do with my future.
“I love the rugby game so much but I needed to look after my mental health.”
Fainga’a played for the Brumbies in 2007-08 before running out on 90 occassions for the Reds between 2009-16.
Of late he has been playing in Japan for the Kintetsu Liners but has decided the risks of playing rugby outweighed the rewards.
“When I would speak it out loud, it was an easy decision but when I was thinking about it, it was like, how hard is this, I love the game and I’ve got offers to keep going and I should play still,” Fainga’a said, adding that he had talked retirement options over with brothers Saia and fellow pro Colby, now playing for Connacht.
“They would never say: ‘It’s time to hang the boots up.’
“But I told them and they were so happy for me.
“My message would be it’s never too early, it’s never too late to finish up.
“Everyone wants to keep playing, everyone loves rugby but it only takes that one head knock.
“Especially for younger players, they need to make the hard decision.
“The easy decision is to keep playing, the hard choice is to say I’m going to give this up and go and do something else.”
Wallabies to Play Test in Newcastle
The Wallabies have confirmed that one of their Rugby Championship games will be played in Newcastle this year
It will be the first time that Newcastle has hosted a Rugby Championship game and will be the Wallabies fourth game of the tournament.
Speaking on the decision Rugby Australia’s chief executive Rennie Castle is delighted that the Wallabies will be able to provide the “sports mad” area with a game at the highest level.
“Newcastle is a sports-mad city and the support for both men’s and women’s Rugby is almost second to none across the country. We can’t wait to showcase the Wallabies in one of our strongest Rugby communities and getting out and about in the community to allow locals to get up close and personal with the team. If the support from the region for the Buildcorp Wallaroos Test last year is any guide, the first ever Rugby Championship match is going to be one of the biggest events of the year and will certainly be one of the highlights of our 2020 Test match calendar,” she said.
It is also the first time that the men’s side will have played in Newcastle since 2012 when they lost to Scotland in what was a disaster for the Wallabies.
The team will be hoping that they can put behind them a poor showing at the Rugby World Cup last year when they get back into action and this gives fans in the city something to look forward to as well as the squad.
All Blacks Confirm 2020 Home Fixtures
The All Blacks have announced there six home fixtures next season and the venues that they will take place in
Up first will be the visit of Wales, who will play the All Blacks at Eden Park on July 4th before taking them on again a week later in Wellington. The games will be the new head coaches first in charge, while the opening game will be a stand-out fixture for new Wales head coach Wayne Pivac, who is a former Auckland and North Harbour coach.
It will be Wales’ first visit to New Zealand since 2016 and is a repeat of the bronze final at this year’s Rugby World Cup which the All Blacks won.
Following their double-header with the Welsh the All Blacks will face Scotland on home soil for the first time in 20 years, in a one-off match in Dunedin on July 18th.
Those games lead into the Rugby Championship with the Wallabies first-up at home for the All Blacks at Wellington on August 15th, which will be new Aussie head coach Dave Rennie’s first match against their rivals.
Argentina are the next in town with a match on August 29th at the FMG Stadium Waikato, while the year will be finished up with a hotly anticipated game against the reigning World Cup holders South Africa at Eden Park on September 5th.
Speaking on the announcement NZR Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass is looking forward to the fixture list for whoever the new head coach is as they begin a new era of All Blacks rugby.
“Post Rugby World Cup there is always a degree of the unknown. The All Blacks will have a new head coach and some new players and I’m sure New Zealanders can’t wait to again get behind the team. Wales and Australia also have new coaches and will bring a lot of energy. It’s fantastic to have Scotland back in New Zealand after such a long time. Our countries have always had close ties and that’s been particularly true of Dunedin where no doubt the region will be ready to roll out the tartan welcome mat. And, what better finish to the home schedule than a Test against South Africa at Eden Park for the Freedom Cup,” he said.
The All Blacks are expected to announce their newest head coach this month with Steve Hansen’s assistant coach Ian Foster and the Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson thought to be the leading candidates for the position at present.
Steyn’s Rugby Career Could be Over
Double World Cup winner Frans Steyn could be set to call time on his career early following his latest triumph
Springboks great Frans Steyn looks likely to at least pull the curtain down on his European career in order to return to his homeland.
The two-time Rugby World Cup winner, who managed to pick up medals from the 2007 edition of the tournament and this year’s one, beating England in both finals, is currently contracted to French Top 14 giants Montpellier.
However, it is believed that he has held discussions with the club about ending his contract come the end of January instead of when it is supposed to expire in July and speaking to South African news-outlet Volksblad, he seems keen on settling down in his homeland.
“Rugby has always been an inspiration for the Afrikaners, especially for farmers. If we had a bad week, if we watch good rugby on Saturday, then everything is better again. Only good rain, a good rugby weekend gives us the power to face Mondays again. It is a privilege that many farmers do not have. We know what to do in the future and what we need to have in place. We want to raise our children here and are attached to the rural feel that Bloemfontein offers. We want our children to have a good experience here as my wife and I had when one grew up here,” he said.
The 32-year-old has a family farm in Bloemfontein and it is understood this is not the first time he has made the suggestion to return to the area, but it now looks more likely than ever that he will get what he likes.
Steyn is expected to return to the French club next week, where he would play until January before his possible move back to South Africa.
At this time it is unknown whether the back would continue his rugby career with local professional side the Cheetahs, who play in the PRO14, or whether he will end his career early, having played at the top level for such a long time already.
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