A GOOD friend of Huddersfield Giants star Paul Whatuira has revealed he sounded fine just days before ending up in a secure mental health unit.
Australia-based Sam Ayoub has revealed exclusively to the Examiner that the 28-year-old New Zealand international was excited about becoming a dad in the coming months.
And Mr Ayoub is reeling in shock at the devastating news that Whatuira was arrested by police after allegedly attacking two men on St Thomas’ Road near Longroyd Bridge at 6am last Tuesday.
One of the men hurt suffered severe facial injuries including a broken nose, missing teeth and other damaged teeth.
It is understood that Whatuira was being treated at St Luke’s Hospital in Crosland Moor at the time, but had left the hospital shortly before the attacks.
Whatuira joined Huddersfield Giants from Australian National Rugby League club Wests Tigers two years ago and Mr Ayoub from Sydney-based Ultra Management (Sports) was his manager at the time.
“This has come as a huge shock to not only myself but to all those who know Paul personally,’’ he said. “He is such a quiet and reserved person with a mild nature.
“I spoke with him only a few days before the incidents. He sounded perfectly fine and as I will be heading to the UK at the end of the month we spoke about catching up and having a bite together.
“He was keen for me to meet his fiance who is expecting their first child. He was extremely excited about becoming a father.’’
Mr Ayoub added: “I feel quite helpless not being able to be there for him but I will certainly be heading to see him upon my arrival in the UK.
“I have had many of his friends contact me to ask about him as this has come as a huge shock. Paul is definitely not a malicious person so obviously something is very, very wrong.’’
He added: “Our thoughts are with him, his fiance and his family at this very difficult time.’’
After his arrest, Whatuira was taken from Huddersfield Police Station to a secure unit in Bradford where he is undergoing a full Mental Health Assessment.
He can be held there for 28 days and after then his case will be reviewed – but he could be held for a further six months.
After that six months has finished there would be another review, but it could be extended for a further six months.
Only very close family members are allowed to visit Whatuira at present.
A source close to Huddersfield Giants said recently: “I understand he is undergoing tests and scans which could take a few weeks.’’
It remains unclear what sparked last Tuesday’s dramatic events, but Whatuira missed two games in the summer after complaining of serious headaches.
He resumed playing when scans showed no obvious problems.