GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — Australia coach Michael Cheika says flanker Lukhan Tui has told Wallabies teammates he will take the rest of the season off after a post-match altercation with a fan.
Cheika said the incident began after Tui’s sister was pushed by the supporter near the tunnel at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, immediately following Australia’s 23-19 loss to Argentina on Saturday.
It capped off an already emotional week for Tui’s family — his stepfather died suddenly on Wednesday, and the Wallabies were wearing black armbands in his honor.
Tui was still able to take his place in the starting team and played the full 80 minutes at blindside flanker.
But Cheika said the 21-year-old Tui addressed players and coaches after the match, telling them he needed to take time away from rugby and would cut his 2018 season short.
“So I hope the fan’s happy,” Cheika said. “That’s a pretty heavy thing to happen, he’s just said it in the dressing room to the players now … he’s not going to be playing anymore because of that incident. It’s one thing being upset with a team … (but) what went down there was the supporter pushed Lukhan’s sister. Lukhan didn’t like that, and that’s fair enough.”
A Wallabies spokesperson said Cheika hopes to convince Tui to keep playing despite his announcement to the players.
Rugby Australia is seeking video from inside the stadium and will await reports from venue security. Broadcast footage showed the fan verbally abusing players before the incident with Tui.
The fan was later led away from the area and detained by Rugby Australia security guards with another offending fan. Police did not arrest either supporter.
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