Stuart Hogg has revealed that he broke down in tears upon learning that his British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand had been ended by a freak injury.
Hogg suffered a facial fracture during Saturday’s 12-3 victory over the Crusaders after accidentally colliding with team-mate Conor Murray’s elbow. The Scotland full-back required stitches to a wound and was told by the Lions medical team that he risked losing his sight if he continued on the tour.
Speaking in his column for the Daily Telegraph, Hogg said: “I am absolutely devastated to be leaving the Lions. It means everything to me to be part of this tour and when, on Monday night, I first got the news that I had suffered a facial fracture and had to come home, I cried. I have done several times since then, too. It is tough, really tough, to take.
“I had been prepared for the worst when I sat down with Eanna Falvey, the Lions doctor, and Bob Stewart, the physio, and they explained the results of the scan and various opinions from the specialists. Yet it still hit me incredibly hard.
“As much as I love being at home, I do not believe I am ready to go. It still has not quite sunk in yet. I feel my game has been getting better and better in New Zealand and was a lot more confident going into the second game against the Crusaders.
“The advice, though, was that I could risk my sight if I received another bang. My eye socket is fractured and the medical advice was unanimous. We got three opinions from specialists and they all said I should not play on.
“I am not going to argue with them. I have to look at the long-term. My sight is a hell of a lot more important than rugby.
“[Head coach] Warren Gatland agreed. He spoke to me afterwards and said he was so disappointed for me. But he said we could not gamble with my eye and there is more to life than rugby, even though it kills me to say that. It is not something I am prepared to take a risk with.”
Hogg will now fly back to Scotland and prepare for the 2017/18 season for his club Glasgow and country. The 24-year-old added: “The one positive from all this is that I will be able to see my wife Gillian and my two children again. My daughter Olivia is just 13 weeks old while my son Archie is 19 months. It will be so exciting to see them, even if it is a lot earlier than I thought.
“I will be the Lions’ No.1 fan now and I truly believe that with the potential we have got in the squad the boys can go on and achieve something incredibly special.”