Former All Black Jerry Collins says he was running from a gang of Brazilian workers who hated foreign rugby players shortly before his arrest in Japan.
Collins, 32, was arrested for carrying two knives in an upmarket department store in the city of Hamamatsu on March 17, and has been held in jail since.
He told TV3's Campbell Live last night he was terrified of being attacked and relieved to have been arrested.
Collins, who had been playing rugby for the Yamaha Jubilo club in Iwata, 40 minutes from Hamamatsu, apparently entered the store and placed two 17cm knives on top of a fish counter, before security staff called the police.
It is illegal to carry weapons with blades longer than 15cm without police permission in Japan.
Collins told Campbell Live he was running from a "gang'' that wanted to hurt him and believed the large number of people in the store would prevent him from being attacked.
Anxious and sweating profusely, he was arrested by more than 20 police officers and taken to jail.
Campbell Live identified the "gang" as a group of Brazilian workers who had a grudge against foreign rugby players dating back to before Collin's arrival.
Asked if he had been taking drugs, Collins told the programme he had been tested after arrest and was clean.
He said he had been treated kindly by police and was well.
Meanwhile, Collins' lawyer, Tim Castle, left New Zealand is due to arrive in Japan tonight to visit the former Hurricane in jail.
Castle is carrying letters of support and character references from the New Zealand Rugby Union, family, friends, church and community leaders.
The mayor of Collins' home town of Porirua, Nick Leggett, is one of the people to send a letter of support.
Leggett said it was important for Collins to know Porirua supported him.
''He's someone who is caring towards his community and is very proud to be from Porirua,'' he said.
''If it's not relevant to the Japanese legal community at least he'll know the place he is from has his back.''
The letter said Collins is a role model for youth in Porirua and known for his caring and generous nature. ''Jerry has used his profile many times to help raise funds for worthy causes not only in Porirua but also throughout the country.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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