Sat, Aug 11, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Wallabies cleared by police over attack on taxi driver

AFP, BRISBANE, Australia

Two World Cup-bound Wallabies were cleared by police over an early morning attack yesterday on a taxi driver, it was reported.

Two players, named by Australian Associated Press (AAP) as winger Lote Tuqiri and prop Matt Dunning, were questioned by police after a 52-year-old taxi driver was attacked outside a Brisbane hotel earlier yesterday.

The driver was reported to be in a serious but stable condition with a fractured skull after allegedly being sucker-punched at a taxi rank.

Police said no rugby players were believed to be responsible for the attack, and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said no Wallaby players were involved.

The Wallabies were staying at the hotel after completing a boot camp ahead of next month's Rugby World Cup in France.

AT A NIGHTCLUB

AAP reported Dunning and Tuqiri had been at a nightclub with Brisbane Broncos Test rugby league fullback Karmichael Hunt and two other people not associated with the squad.

Fox Sports quoted an ARU source saying the two unnamed people were later allegedly involved in the incident with the taxi driver, with the two Wallaby players remaining in their hotel rooms.

Detective Inspector Tony Duncan said police were yet to view security camera video footage believed to have captured the attack.

"Nobody has been charged and at this stage it's early in the investigation," he told reporters. "So far the investigation has not identified any footballer [rugby player] as being responsible for the assault on the victim."

HELPING WITH INQUIRIES

Duncan said witnesses, including rugby players, had been helping the police with their inquiries into the incident.

"There are a number of people who do play football who have been spoken to in relation to the investigation," he said.

The ARU said in a statement it had been made aware of an assault on a taxi driver.

"The ARU understands that no Wallaby players were involved in or witnessed the assault overnight, which is now the subject of a police investigation," the statement said.

Tuqiri and Dunning have both been disciplined in the past by the Wallabies management for off-field breaches.

Tuqiri was fined and banned last month for missing a recovery session and appearing at training with an unacceptable alcohol reading. He was also involved in a nightclub incident in Cape Town with teammate Matt Henjak in July 2005.

Dunning was fined in August last year after a late night incident in which a taxi suffered damage, and was also involved in the Tuqiri-Henjak incident in South Africa.

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