Four South Canterbury rugby players have voluntarily stood down from this weekend's clash against West Coast as police continue their investigation into an alleged rape.
Whanganui police are investigating the allegation that has been brought against South Canterbury players, who were staying at the Kingsgate Hotel in Whanganui, on Sunday morning.
Timaru lawyer Tony Shaw is acting for four players.
Mr Shaw said the players have voluntarily stood down from the team while the investigation continues. "These players have stood down so that their team-mates and their families are not the subject of unnecessary rumours or suspicions. They do not accept the allegations . . . or that there has been any criminal wrongdoing on their behalf."
Mr Shaw said the players are in the process of meeting police and are assisting police with their investigations.
Timaru police started interviewing some of the squad who travelled to Whanganui yesterday morning, along with the coaches and team management.
Whanganui Detective Senior Sergeant Neil Forlong said the South Canterbury Rugby Union was co-operating fully.
"We have taken a number of statements from the team but we still have a large number of people to speak to."
Analysis of CCTV footage from Whanganui City Council cameras as well as footage from bars the players are believed to have visited is ongoing, he said.
Approximately 15 officers from Whanganui, Palmerston North and Timaru are involved in the investigation.
South Canterbury Rugby Union chairman Brent Isbister said the union was deeply upset that the team has been the focus of a police investigation.
"This is a very serious allegation and we have been co-operating fully with the police.
"It is important to remember that the police need to be left to conduct their investigation and we are in no way pre-determining the outcome of the investigation."
Mr Isbister said the team announced to play West Coast tomorrow had been selected on the basis of the best players available.
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