Head On: An All Black's memoir of rugby, dementia, and the hidden cost of success
- Author: Hayman, Carl
- ISBN: 9781775542353
$NZ 39.99 Ex Tax: $NZ 39.99
An All Black's memoir of rugby, dementia, and the hidden cost of success Carl Hayman, All Black #1000, once the most highly prized player in world rugby and a giant of the game in every sense - someone who was always respected, even feared. But at the end of seventeen years as a professional rugby player, the last eight played with the sole aim of setting up his family's future, Hayman's life began to unravel in nightmarish fashion. Head On is about the pressures on the modern athlete, where physical performance and commerce collide, and players become victims of their own success. Exploited then left out in the cold, Hayman is now left counting the hidden cost of the achievements that would have exceeded any young rugby player's wildest dreams. He now fears both the known and the unknown with equal trepidation as he looks for answers to dementia and a degenerative brain condition called CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Experimental treatments, family, hope, and the enduring power of the human spirit have become Carl's go-tos. As a relatively young man, still in his early 40s, Hayman contends with brain degeneration he should only be seeing at the end of his life, not in his prime. In Head On, Hayman relives a remarkable rugby career, with revelations about the shock All Blacks loss to France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the decisions to leave New Zealand and play for the Newcastle Falcons in England, in doing so becoming one of the best-paid players on the planet, and how being put on the fast track to the All Blacks as a youngster combined with the Southern Man rugby ethos in Dunedin caused him to develop a dangerous relationship with alcohol. Eventually Hayman would come to realise his European championships as captain of French club Toulon would forever be tinged with regret - all a glorious lie. Toulon had broken him. He was a willing participant in it, but he would soon come to realise that the glory was fleeting, and the damage permanent. This book is about the testosterone-fueled, play-hard, drink-hard mentality of rugby, where playing with pain was not just accepted, but expected. If it took an unhealthy cocktail of painkillers and alcohol to get through to another match day, that's what you did. But this book is also about how all of us can better understand how the decisions we make can have unintended consequences, and how we can better serve our young sporting talent.