'Step up' - team urges rape accused
The two South Canterbury rugby players at the centre of an investigation into the alleged rape of a woman in Whanganui last weekend have been urged by team officials to co-operate with the police.
The announcement after the team's return to Timaru that two members of the 22-strong squad were under investigation by Whanganui police was news to some players, according to a Timaru Herald source.
The Herald understands a scheduled team meeting on Tuesday went longer than normal and that at least one senior player said if the allegations were true, the players involved should "step up".
South Canterbury's assistant coach, Simon Scott, is a former Auckland detective and he urged all the players to tell the truth about what they knew.
His message was backed up by head coach Chester Scott.
There was also concern among players about being implicated in something they knew nothing about.
The Herald understands that, because of the seriousness of the allegations, the South Canterbury Rugby Union organised for legal advice to be available yesterday morning for the players allegedly involved but it was not known whether they chose to take up the offer.
The Whanganui police officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Neil Forlong, said his team was reviewing Wanganui District Council CCTV footage as well as footage from surrounding bars. "We will also be speaking to a number of people to gain further information."
The Herald contacted senior players in the South Canterbury team yesterday but they declined to comment.
The New Zealand Rugby Union is helping the South Canterbury union with legal advice because of the serious nature of the allegations.
Police have assigned 10 officers to the case in Whanganui, while Timaru officers may also be called on to help.
- © Fairfax NZ News