Bar owner: We deserve an apology too, Sharks

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 28/05/2014
New Plymouth sharks
WITNESSES SOUGHT: CCTV footage from the New Plymouth pub brawl.

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A New Plymouth bar owner whose security staff were allegedly savaged by three Southland Sharks basketballers has got the apology he demanded.

Doc van Praagh, of Crowded House Bar and Cafe, has received a personal apology via email from Southland Sharks general manager Jill Bolger in regards to the Sunday morning brawl that allegedly left two of his security guards knocked out cold and stomped on.

Van Praagh yesterday said it was bad form Bolger had apologised to the Southland community but not the New Plymouth security staff hurt in the attack.

Today the publican said he had received a personal apology from Bolger late yesterday afternoon.

''It arrived yesterday but I was picking the kids up from school and didn't see it until today,'' he said.

The demand for an apology came after police arrested three Sharks players, aged 19, 21 and 28, on Sunday in relation to the incident.

The players charged are Reuben Te Rangi, Leon Henry and Shea Ili. Between them, they face four charges of assault with intent to injure, which carries a maximum sentence of three years' jail.

The players have been remanded to appear before the New Plymouth District Court on June 19.

On Monday, Bolger voiced an apology about the incident to The Southland Times.

"We apologise wholeheartedly to the Southland community, fans, sponsors, partners," she said.

Everyone involved with the Sharks was distraught over the incident but there was a need to "hear both sides of the story and let the police investigation take its course" she told the Times.

Coach Paul Henare described the past two days as the toughest he has had to deal with in his life.

He did not want to be seen as defending the actions of his players but did want to point out the three players who were arrested were the only members of the Sharks team and management involved in the incident.

Reports that the whole team was involved were wrong, with the rest of the team already at the hotel, he said. He also clarified that they opted not to attend the after-match function because they were told there would be a delay in serving the food at the function.

Instead they opted to eat at the hotel because many players were hungry, he said.

The Mountain Airs are scheduled to play the Sharks again on Sunday in Invercargill.

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