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ARU: ‘Wallabies not involved in assault’



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Two Wallabies were questioned by Brisbane police, following the brutal assault on a taxi driver, which left the driver with a fractured skull, outside the hotel in which they were staying overnight on Friday.

However, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said in a statement on Friday that police have cleared the two players of any involvement in the assault on the taxi driver.

An anonymous ARU source, quoted by Fox Sports, said the two players questioned were prop Matt Dunning and wing Lote Tuqiri. Both Tuqiri and Dunning had just returned to their hotel, with two associates from a nightclub just before the incident occurred.

The two Wallabies, who are notorious for alcohol-related incidents, were not suspects.

However, Tuqiri and Dunning have both been disciplined in the past by the Wallabies for off-field breaches.

Tuqiri was fined and banned last month for missing a recovery session and turning up at training with an unacceptable alcohol reading. He was also involved in a nightclub clash in Cape Town with teammate Matt Henjak in July 2005.

Dunning was fined in August 2006 after a late night incident in which a taxi was damaged, and was also involved in the Tuqiri-Henjak incident in South Africa.

Fox Sport went on to report that the two Wallabies had been in their rooms at the time of the incident, while the two associates went downstairs shortly before the incident.

“Nobody has been charged at this stage, it is early in the investigation and the offender for this offence has not been identified,” said Inspector Tony Duncan of the Brisbane police.

“So far the investigation has not identified any footballer as being responsible for the assault on the victim.There are a number of people who do play football who have been spoken to in relation to the investigation,” said Duncan.

The incident was reported by Seven Network to have taken place in the early hours of Friday morning.

It is believed that a group of men which included several Wallaby players, who had just returned from their week long boot camp off the East Coast of Brisbane were standing outside the Sifitel Hotel when the taxi driver pulled up.

The 55-year-old driver was subsequently ‘king-hit’, fell on his head and transported to a local hospital, reported Seven Network. He is in a stable but serious condition.

The ARU has since responded to the reports, saying that it was aware of the incident.

Amid much speculation, it is believed that the incident was captured on camera, which could create some much needed clarity on the matter at a later stage.

According to the ARU statement police investigating the incident have spoken to two Wallaby players and have since informed the ARU there is no suggestion of any involvement by the players.

ARU Managing Director & CEO John O’Neill said that while police have cleared the two players, the fact they were socialising in a player’s room into the early hours with people they were unfamiliar with is a concern.

“Players must be more conscious of not placing themselves in harm’s way,” O’Neill said.

“While they may not have done anything wrong, they have clearly placed themselves in a position where their reputations and that of the Wallabies have been compromised.

“The fact is the Wallaby training camp had concluded and players were on their own time, the Brisbane-based players had even returned home.

“I plan on addressing the entire squad before it leaves for the World Cup in France and Wales on the importance of keeping themselves and the Wallaby name unblemished,” O’Neill concluded.

The Wallabies squad will leave Australia on August 23.


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