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All Blacks star Shannon Frizell apologises over alleged assault

By Sam Smith
Shannon Frizell. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

All Blacks star Shannon Frizell is set to avoid conviction over an alleged assault that took place at a Dunedin nightclub in May.


The 27-year-old loose forward appeared in the Dunedin District Court on Tuesday where he faced two charges of male assaults female and one of common assault.

Frizell did not enter a plea and was offered a diversion by the judge after defence counsel Anne Stevens QC asked for the case to be adjourned due to the fact her client was a first-time offender.

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In order to get diversion, and therefore avoid conviction, Frizell will be required to adhere to conditions set out by police, which could include restorative justice meetings, reparation payments or voluntary work.

The alleged incident took place at Vault 21, a popular bar/restaurant in the centre of Dunedin, two months ago.

Police later confirmed that they were investigating an incident at Vault 21 and said a rugby player “of significance” was involved.

Frizell, who has played 15 tests for the All Blacks since his international debut in 2018, issued an apology to “the people involved, my family, friends and the wider community” when he emerged from the court.


“I would like to take this opportunity to say how very sorry I am for my behaviour during the incident in May this year,” he told reporters.

“I would especially like to say sorry to the people involved and the harm I have caused.

“I am very grateful for all the opportunity I’ve had and I won’t take them for granted.

“I let myself and others down, and will now try to do everything I can to restore people’s faith in me.


“I have already put a plan in place with  counsellors to help me address areas I want to work on.

“Once again, I’d like to apologise to the people involved, my family, my friends and the wider community.”

Frizell was later granted bail and ordered not to contact either complainant or consume alcohol until his next court appearance in September.

The maximum penalty on a charge of male assaults female is two years’ imprisonment.

New Zealand Rugby [NZR] general manager professional rugby and performance Chris Lendrum reportedly said the national body has undertaken its “own employment process” and it is aware that charges have been laid against Frizell.

Shortly after the alleged incident, Frizell was stood down by the Highlanders for a week in the lead-up to their Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash against the Queensland Reds.

However, Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said it was not punishment for Frizell, but rather a measure to avoid “distraction”.

Following the Super Rugby season, Frizell was named in the All Blacks squad that faced Tonga and Fiji earlier this month and appeared in both tests against Fiji.

He was then named in Ian Foster’s Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship squad last week.

The All Blacks are set to resume their international campaign against the Wallabies at Eden Park in Auckland next Saturday.

In April, Frizell signed a two-year contract extension with the Highlanders and NZR as he cited the culture of the Highlanders as a key reason behind his decision to stay in Dunedin.

“I have enjoyed my time here, I like Dunedin and the culture of the team, it seems to get the best out of me,” he said at the time.


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