French sacked for refusal to undergo heart surgery

Kurt French

When you think of a player being sacked from a club, you generally associate it with an indiscretion from a player, or a player finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.

In this particular case however, a case that the Bunnies have received a great deal of support for undertaking – young starlet Kurt French had his contract torn up by the Rabbitohs, after he refused to undergo a surgery that he believes he does not need.

To illustrate just how talented French is, he recently broke the record for the most points scored in one game in the Toyota Cup in Rd 4, scoring a mammoth 30 points – though it was a pattern of irregularly fast heartbeats, that prompted the club to ask him to undergo surgery.

For French, he remains adamant that he complied with what the club asked him to do, which included visiting a specialist – though French was unwilling to comply with the club’s orders when it came to having a catheter ablation.

“It was all fine at the club and then a week later against Wests Tigers I got palpitations,” French said.

“The doc said I wasn’t allowed to play after that and they wanted me to get this surgery done, but we didn’t think it was necessary at the time. Not long after that I got called in and they gave me a release.”

As he attempts to resurrect his career, French is working as a labourer to make ends meet, with the Bunnies having paid out his remaining 2012 contract in full.

“We’re disappointed that Kurt wasn’t given more time or maybe even a second opinion,” Ian French said.

“We would have liked Kurt to be treated the way we wanted to do it, not using an invasive procedure.”

Shane Richardson, the Bunnies Chief Executive, said that the club regretted having to release the young talent, but they had no choice to.

“He’s actually a very good player and he played in a first-grade trial against the Warriors at Coffs Harbour at fullback,” he said.

“But medically we couldn’t take the risk of him playing and training. We’re still paying the medical bills. He came to our game last week, I saw him in the players’ enclosure.

“The last time it happened at the football stadium, he nearly collapsed, so we’ve had all the tests done and I think there is more to be done. But the bottom line is we can’t let him play if there is the risk of [him suffering a] heart attack. [When it happened], his heart would be pounding so much he couldn’t breathe.”

For French, he is disappointed with the outcome, given he trained with the first-grade squad a fair bit, as well as play in NRL trials.

“I told them I didn’t want to go home, I wanted to stay and at least see out the year with the boys but it never happened,” he said.

“I’d made some pretty good friendships with some of the boys, so I was pretty devastated.

“I personally don’t think I’ve got a heart problem. Sometimes, when I’m a bit homesick at the time and stressed, that’s what causes it. When I was feeling good last year I never got it. When I feel good in myself I don’t get it. I may have been a bit run down, so all of those things had something to do with it. They didn’t give me any time to sort it out. They just wanted me to do what they said.

“I think it was pretty poor on their behalf, what they did.”

French’s father said: “Kurt just wants to continue his career and play NRL.”

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