Warrington Wolves lost captain Chris Hill in extraordinary circumstances during the opening Super League match when the England prop rushed to hospital in the second half after his wife went into labour at Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Former St George Illawarra Dragons coach Steve Price, who was in charge of Warrington for the first time, said he had never experienced such a situation and suggested the shock departure of Hill had contributed to his side’s 16-12 loss to Super League premiers Leeds.
Hill’s wife Kathryn had been watching the game from the grandstand when she began to go into labour with the couple’s fourth child.
Hill, who was a member of the England team which played Australia in December’s World Cup final, withdrew himself from the match midway through the second half to join his wife at hospital.
“We were aware of it pre-game. She’d had a few contractions prior to the game,” Price said after the match.
“Chris made that decision and we fully supported him. It was important that Chris did the right thing and be by the side of his wife.
“I’ve never been in that situation before but it is what it is. It’s one of those things, the timing was perhaps in Leeds’ favour.”
Hill’s sudden exit from the match followed a similar incident last season in which his England teammate Alex Walmsley came from the field in St Helens’ match against Wakefield and rushed to hospital in his full playing kit after his wife had gone into labour, but missed the birth of their son.
Meanwhile, England winger Ryan Hall scored two tries for Leeds as they their season got off to a winning start ahead of the World Club Challenge against Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park on February 16.
Hull FC will also head to Australia for the first Super League match played outside Europe with a win under their belts after defeating Huddersfield 38-12 at KCOM Stadium.
Hull will meet Wigan at WIN Stadium next Saturday, February 10 in the round two Super League fixture before taking on St George Illawarra Dragons in a double-header at ANZ Stadium on February 17, which will also feature South Sydney Rabbitohs playing Wigan Warriors.