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    All Black barred from family

    2013-04-22 07:41
    Wellington - All Black and Hurricanes wing Julian Savea has been remanded on bail after appearing in the Wellington District Court.

    Bail conditions state he must live at a different address from his partner, cannot have contact with her, or visit her home.

    The 22-year-old, whose full name is Sio Julian Savea, appeared in court for assaulting Dawn Rodgers on April 15.

    VIDEO: Savea brothers interview

    He has been remanded on bail and will appear in court again next month. The charge carries a maximum of a year's imprisonment.

    Savea initially stood in the dock while his lawyer Lucie Scott opposed media applications to film him and take photographs.

    The case was stood down to allow her to take instructions from Savea.

    Savea had been filmed as he gave a press conference on Sunday where he was tearful and appeared to admit the charge and apologised to his partner and family saying he had done some things wrong.

    However, he entered no plea today and was remanded on bail until next month.

    He returned to the dock briefly while Judge Anthony Walsh decided the media applications.

    Ms Scott said it was unfair to grant them today as it was rushed through and Savea would be back for another day.

    Judge Walsh adjourned the applications to Savea's next appearance.

    Dressed in a black shirt, the giant winger, who is a front man for anti-violence campaigns, wept with shame yesterday as he apologised to his partner, and the families involved.

    Savea is the latest of several high-profile rugby players to face criminal charges in recent times and the New Zealand Rugby Union says it is now organising an independent review of the way it supports young players.

    Savea's mother told the New Zealand Herald that her son had moved in with her since the incident while his partner, Dawn, stayed at home with their daughter Cora, who is almost one year old.

    She said Savea was finding it "very difficult" to be away from his daughter.

    Mrs Savea said she had been relaying messages between Savea and Dawn as the pair were not talking directly.

    She said the pair were "just letting things settle". She did not know if they were still together.

    "We're just taking it day by day, as it comes," she said.

    "We're just here for my son as best as we can and his family is behind him, whatever the outcome is, we'll take it. His family and friends are all there for him."

    Savea said on Sunda  that during an "incident" on April 14, he had argued with his partner.

    "I did some things that are wrong, and that I shouldn't have done, and I apologise for that," he said.

    "To my partner and her family, I just want to say that I'm sorry. To hurt someone that you love and care so much for . . . I know it's hurting them and it's definitely hurting me, so I apologise to them.

    "I'm not making excuses for myself. I know what I did was wrong, and I have taken steps to make sure this never happens again. "My main concern is making sure my partner and my baby are OK through all of this."

    Police yesterday said the victim of the alleged assault did not require medical treatment.

    Savea, who has featured in the "It's Not OK!" campaign against family violence, was formally charged on Monday.

    He was allowed to play for the Hurricanes on Friday, in a 22-16 win over the Force in Wellington, despite the charge.

    New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said the decision was not taken lightly.

    "He did play on Friday, there was a large group of people that gave that a lot of thought, including Julian himself and the coaches," Tew said, adding alcohol was not involved in the incident.

    There were plans for an independent review to see if young players had enough support.

    "There have been a number of incidents in the past 12 months, so the time is right to check that what we are doing is right."

    Savea was supported at the press conference by his younger brother Ardie, also a Hurricane, who was visibly upset and hid his face under a hood when his brother spoke.

    Wellington Rugby Union chief executive James Te Puni said Savea would be kept in the team environment.

    News of the assault was "disappointing", he said.

    "But when the issue was raised our focus immediately went to the people affected, and how do we provide support," Te Puni said.

    The charge shouldn't stop Savea heading to South Africa with the Hurricanes next weekend. Tew said it could take months for the case to go through the court system.

    "We've had other players, unfortunately, in the same situation and . . . we believe they are better off in the environment, carrying on with their work and getting on with their lives," he said.

    The New Zealand Ministry of Social Development, which runs the "It's Not OK!" campaign, did not want to comment on the All Black's involvement.

    Ministry spokesman Dominic McGurk would not say whether Savea's role in the campaign would be reviewed or whether his anti-violence advertisements would be pulled.

    Criminal law expert Jonathon Krebs said whether or not Savea would be able to travel while his case was before the courts would depend on the bail conditions.

    Savea's dependence on travel for his job could make it easier for him to obtain a discharge without conviction, if the consequences of a conviction would significantly outweigh the gravity of his offence, Krebs said.

    Clinical psychologist Karen Nimmo said the NZRU acted responsibly when it came to supporting its players and she welcomed the independent review.

    "These things need to be got on top of very quickly," she said.

    Most people did not appreciate the pressures that modern-day All Blacks were under, especially when they shot to fame at an early age, she said.

    "They have huge temptations around them and expectations that they have to get used to very quickly . . . it's the scourge of professional sport."

    Savea has had a stellar start to his professional rugby career, earning an All Black call-up in June last year against Ireland.

    Nicknamed "The Bus," Savea's blockbusting style of play has earned him comparisons with All Black great Jonah Lomu.


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