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Another New Zealander in disciplinary trouble at a Pro D2 club

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

A week after it emerged that ex-Super Rugby player Jonathan Ruru had reportedly played his last match for Provence in the Pro D2, Elijah Niko has become the latest New Zealander to find himself in disciplinary trouble at a second-tier French club.

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The former NZ Warriors and Melbourne Storm rugby league prospect has been playing union for more than a decade with stints at Pau, Albi and Beziers in France before switching to England to play for Leeds, Ealing and Bedford.

In more recent times, the 32-year-old headed back across the Channel to play for Aurillac in Pro D2 but he has been marked absent this past month. His club claimed he was on sick leave but French media are now reporting that he has been sidelined following alleged intolerable behaviour in the wake of his team’s March 9 home loss to Grenoble.

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A La Montagne report published on Thursday was headlined: In the fridge for a month, Elijah Niko (Aurillac) has put himself on the sidelines. The article claimed that the versatile backline player had physically attacked a member of staff and hadn’t trained since then with the club.

“For being guilty of behaviour deemed ‘intolerable’ after the defeat against Grenoble, Elijah Niko has not appeared in matches or training since,” it read. “He sought to physically attack a member of the staff and has since been in the fridge. Officially, the player is ‘on sick leave’.”

The report went on to allege that Niko had to be held back post-game in the dressing room by three Aurillac forwards having earlier dissed instructions from the staff member he went on to physically attack. The altercation came just months after Niko had signed a contract extension at the club.

These revelations about the Wellington-born Niko, who was in the Samoan squad for their cancelled November 2021 Killik Cup match versus the Barbarians at Twickenham, became public seven days after local media elsewhere in France reported that former Blues scrum-half Ruru wasn’t absent since December with a nasty knee injury, as was claimed by his club Provence.

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“An argument broke out after the 30-year-old scrum-half struck… the wife of one of his teammates,” reported La Provence, revealing details of a new year party that went wrong.

“Immediately after this incomprehensible and intolerable gesture, an Aix player inflicted a real correction. Verdict: broken jaw and shoulder. Hospitalised and then operated, Ruru was sent a few weeks later to the European Centre for Sports Rehabilitation in Capbreton for treatment.”

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