THE explosive Samoan international rugby wing and EP Kings star, Paul Perez, who repeatedly punched a Pumas player during his team's dramatic 26-26 draw in Port Elizabeth on Friday, was suffering from delayed post-traumatic stress at the time, Kings chief executive Anele Pamba said.
The vicious incident resulted in the Kings being reduced to 14 men for most of the match after Perez was red-carded.
Spectators at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium were shocked when Perez threw several punches at Wilhelm Loock 13 minutes before half time in a dramatic Currie Cup First Division showdown.
Referee Quinton Immelman and the crowd watched several replays of the incident on the stadium's big screen before Immelman showed the fiery Perez a red card.
As the replays were shown, the spectators chanted "boom, boom, boom" as each punch landed.
"This was totally out of character for Paul and I think I need to bring to the attention of the public a traumatic incident involving Paul three weeks ago," Pamba said.
Perez had been robbed at gunpoint at his Summerstrand home, he said. "He was completely cleaned out by the armed robbers and he had to move out.
"Because of his culture in Samoa, Paul does not believe in counselling."
Pamba said he believed this had an effect on Perez during the game.
"When the incident occurred, I believe he took it out on the Pumas player because when the gun was pointed at him there was nothing he could do," Pamba said.
Perez is a vital player in the Kings team and there is now a possibility he might miss several key matches later in the season if SA Rugby bosses take strong action.
"We will know what the position is about Paul [today] when the incident comes up for discussion at SA Rugby. I cannot comment further," Pamba said.
Friday's draw means that the Kings have qualified for a promotion/relegation match to the Currie Cup Premier Division at the end of the season.
Pamba paid tribute to the enthusiastic spectators at Friday's showdown, which he described as a "match of a lifetime" in which EP needed two tries from skipper Luke Watson in the final six minutes to snatch a dramatic draw.
"When I got home on Friday night, I watched three replays of the entire game," Pamba said.
"I only fell asleep very early on Saturday morning. It was an incredible fight-back and a great display of guts from the guys.
"The spectators who stood in the rain and watched us were fantastic. They are just as important as the players and the coaches, and I want to thank them for their unbelievable support."
Pamba said qualifying for the Premier Division playoffs was a major achievement and sent out a strong signal that the Kings meant business this season.
ýMatch report on Page 15