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Carl Hayman releases new book ‘Head On’


An All Black’s memoir of rugby, young onset dementia, and the hidden cost of success.


Former All Black Carl Hayman brought to his knees by the game he loved. He shares his powerful, honest and incredibly raw story. He’s living with Young Onset Dementia, and all that it brings, aged just 43. Carl Hayman,

All Black #1000, once the most highly prized player in the world of rugby and a giant 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 a nightmarish fashion.

Early onset dementia makes up 12 percent of all diagnoses, takes on average twice as long to detect, and poses a raft of unique challenges.

Exploited then left out in the cold, Hayman is now left counting the hidden cost of his 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).




Click here to watch Carl Hayman’s interview with Sunday’s reporter Mark Crysell


Click here to read more about Young Onset Dementia.





Head On is Carl Hayman’s story about the testosterone-fuelled, play-hard, drink-hard mentality of rugby, where playing with pain was not just accepted, but expected. It is a story about the pressures on the modern athlete, where physical performance and commerce collide, and players become victims of their own success.

“I played 45 Tests as a tighthead prop for the All Blacks and can remember most of them pretty well. What I struggle to remember is what I did yesterday. Why was I plagued with crushing headaches? Rugby was what I knew best, so why didn’t I know it anymore?

Why, after being referred to as a ‘gentle giant’ was I not so gentle anymore? Why was I so thin-skinned these days? Why was I so quick to anger? Why was I hurting the ones closest to me, the people I loved?”  Carl Hayman


Head On is out now in all leading bookstores.







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