Shannon Frizell suspended for opening Bledisloe Cup test after court appearance

Shannon Frizell will miss the All Blacks’ opening Bledisloe Cup test against Australia on August 7 after being suspended by New Zealand Rugby as a result of his appearance in court on assault charges.

NZR held a misconduct hearing and suspended Frizell for two matches, with the other one being the Highlanders’ Super Rugby match against the Reds in May, which he was stood down for after news of the incident emerged.

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

Police allege Frizell assaulted two people, including a woman, at Vault 21, a popular restaurant/bar in Dunedin's Octagon, in May.

Frizell did not enter a plea, but was offered diversion by the judge after his lawyer Anne Stevens QC said her client was a first-time offender.

He will appear in the court again in September, when it will be determined whether he has fulfilled the requirements of the scheme.

NZ Rugby said while misconduct proceedings were confidential employment matters, Frizell’s representatives had agreed to some details being released, in the interests of transparency.

Frizell was stood down for the Highlanders’ game against the Reds on May 14 after the incident and this was taken into account as one of the matches, NZR general manager of professional rugby and performance Chris Lendrum said. The other is the Bledisloe Cup test in Auckland on August 7.

“We are disappointed at this incident and the subsequent assault charges for Shannon. Given the seriousness of this incident, we felt that a two-match stand down was warranted,” Lendrum said.

Frizell had accepted responsibility for his actions.

“Shannon has shown remorse and regret and we believe he is genuinely committed to ensuring this sort of incident doesn’t happen again. We are supporting him with ongoing counselling.”

“We appreciate that this is a difficult time for the people affected by his actions. Shannon has apologised and we offer our support to them also.”

As part of the misconduct process, all parties have agreed that no further comment on this matter will be made, Lendrum said.