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Filipo withdraws from Lions rugby squad

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/09/2016

Winger Losi Filipo and Wellington Rugby have mutually agreed to terminate the teenage player's contract.

Filipo has been in the media spotlight after it was revealed he was discharged without conviction for assault after an incident in Wellington last October.

The 18-year-old on Tuesday withdrew himself from the Wellington Lions squad in a move he says he hopes will go some way toward helping the victims of his assault move on with their lives.

He also hopes termination of his contract would demonstrate his remorse and accountability for what happened.

Filipo says he could understand why the victims do not want to talk to him and have not taken up an offer of restorative justice.

"But I would like to publicly apologise for my actions and the damage they caused," he said in a statement.

"I made a huge mistake that my victims and myself will have to live with for the rest of our lives."

Filipo was 17 and still at school when the incident occurred.

Last month, he was discharged when he appeared in Wellington District Court, with Judge Bruce Davidson taking into the account the effect of a conviction on his rugby career.

On Monday night, the four victims publicly questioned why Filipo's promise as a sportsman had been a factor in the case.

The ensuing publicity led to plans for a protest before Wellington's NPC match against Southland on Friday and to the Solicitor-General's office saying it is looking into the discharge.

Filipo approached Wellington Rugby on Tuesday afternoon to seek a release from his contract and the parties agreed it would be the best outcome.

Union chief executive Steve Rogers said the situation was an unfortunate one for everybody involved.

He said Wellington Rugby extended its sympathies to the two men and two women in the incident and reiterated that it did not condone violence in any form.

"We would like to extend an offer of assistance and support to Greg Morgan, a member of our rugby community, who we have learned will not be able to play the game due to his injuries," he said.

Rogers added that the union was "not simply washing its hands of Filipo due to public pressure" and would continue to offer support.

"Wellington Rugby believes the best outcome for society would be for Losi to remain involved in the game of rugby," he said.

"To that end we put support structures in place which we believe have already helped him make big advancements."

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