Friday 22 September 2017

Hayden Triggs opens up about the tragic loss of his daughter Stella and falling out of love with rugby

Hayden Triggs
Hayden Triggs Newsdesk Newsdesk

Hayden Triggs has decided to call time on his playing career at 35 to focus on family and the next phase of his life.

It has been a difficult time for the New Zealand-born after the tragic death of his baby daughter Stella last September.

She arrived after just 24 weeks and despite battling for three weeks, she lost her fight for life.

Triggs, who has spoken publicly about the ordeal before, told Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio One how he and his family are coping and how difficult it was to explain to his two children what had happened to their sister.

"It's a day-to-day thing. She's never far from our thoughts and the people involved know that we're still involved with the hospital and the doctors and nurses. We're still trying to do our bit to fundraise for them because they are miracle workers in there.

"She was breathing but 24 weeks is kind of the the cut-off line because anything before that, the lungs haven't developed, and they can't breathe.

"Mikala was given a steroid shot just before Stella arrived and it was probably too late. That kind of hurries the lungs to start working.

"She had a lot of complications. She had fluid on her lungs. After a week or so she settled down.

"Every day was different, new challenges every day.

"She survived three weeks. The struggle with breathing meant a lack of oxygen had affected the brain.

"When the brain goes, it's a hard life.

"The hardest news was finding out that her brain was suffering, we knew at that point that she couldn't cope with that, she had fought through everything else but once the brain goes, it's pretty vital.

"It was devastating. It was so hard.

"Me and my wife talked to each other, to our kids. How do you tell an eight and five-year-old that their sister can't make it because of complications.

"They had a lot of questions that were tough to answer. In reality, we had to face them.

"We had some good support from friends and Mikala's mum flew over from New Zealand.

"We don't stop talking about it. She's never far from our thoughts."

On stepping away from rugby, Triggs explains that he did not have the same passion for the game.

"I've probably fallen out of love with it a little bit. I've been doing it for quite a while now, near on 15 years of trying to ply my trade and get paid, do the best that I can every single day and I'm ready for a new challenge," he added.

"Amateur players, in my opinion, play for the love, they play for the craic, they play for the club or the jersey they are representing. They have an option to turn up.

"I was fortunate to be involved with St Mary's this year in some capacity, they kind of put me back into why I started playing rugby as an adult.

"I'm not bashing professional rugby, it has given me beautiful opportunities and things I never ever dreamed I would do and I've met some beautiful people through the game.

"I'm not saying professional rugby isn't a great lifestyle but I have three kids now with another one on the way, I have a beautiful wife who has followed me whenever I've said it's time to go. Without much of a grumble, she's picked up her life and moved around with me.

"I've had enough of dragging them around."

Triggs also admitted that recent death of Dan Vickerman, the former Australia international rugby player, who died by suicide earlier this year, had hit him hard but spoke about how vocal he is and that he expresses himself quite easily, but is aware that the resources are there for retired players who have negative thoughts or have issues.

"He'd travelled, he had a young family and he had recently retired which I knew I was going to do. He was back at home with a stable job, he was well educated and then for some unspeakable reason, he thought nothing was good enough and he took his own life

"I don't know the guy, I played against him a couple of times. I don't know the situation whatsoever, but that's me on the other side of the world. It's my predicament.

"I'm going to retire from playing now and I know that we have the resources if we have negative thoughts.

"We're modern day gladiators. Look at me, I'm intimidating, it's what I am bred to be but inside, that's not what we're like. I went to Justin Bieber last night.

"We're not what we seem."

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