May 21, 2019 / 8:36 AM / 6 months ago

Wallabies hooker Latu stood down over drink driving charge

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Wallabies hooker Tolu Latu has been stood down by the New South Wales Waratahs pending a court appearance for drink driving and will face a code of conduct hearing, the Super Rugby team said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Australia Rugby Union - Australia's Captain's Run - Stade de France, Saint-Denis near Paris, France - 18/11/16 Australia's Tolu Latu during the captain's run the day before a match between France and Australia. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Rugby Australia’s integrity unit probed a media report last week that Latu was discovered sleeping in his vehicle in the east of the city and was found to have exceeded the legal limit of alcohol in his blood when tested by police.

The New South Wales Rugby Union said it had stood down Latu until his court appearance on June 6 after he met with RA’s integrity unit.

NSW Rugby Union chief executive, Andrew Hore, said the organisation was “extremely” disappointed in Latu’s action but would support the 26-year-old.

“Tolu’s actions are a serious breach of the standards we set for the players, coaches and staff both on and off the field,” said Hore.

“He is regretful of his actions and has taken full responsibility and NSW Waratahs will provide him with the necessary support and further education.”

Latu, who played off the bench for the Waratahs against the Queensland Reds on Saturday a few hours after the story broke in the local media, was slow to alert the team about the drink driving charge.

He said he recognised he should have spoken to Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson earlier and apologised to his team mates and the rugby community.

“I’m disappointed with my actions, because I recognise the seriousness of this situation.”

Tonga-born Latu, who has played 12 tests for Australia, had only recently returned from a six-week suspension for a reckless challenge in Super Rugby when the charge was reported last week.

The Waratahs had already lost the services of Wallabies fullback Israel Folau, whose contract was terminated on Friday for a social media post that said gay people were destined for hell.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney

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