Lukhan Tui unlikely to travel with Australia for final two games
Loose forward got involved in altercation with fan after defeat to Argentina
Lukhan Tui (right) hugs Rob Simmons following Australia’s loss to Argentina in the Rugby Championship match at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Photograph: Darren England/EPA
Australia loose forward Lukhan Tui is unlikely to travel with the team to South Africa and Argentina after he was involved in an altercation with a fan following Saturday’s 23-19 Rugby Championship loss to the Pumas, coach Michael Cheika has said.
Video footage showed the 21-year-old being confronted by a Wallabies fan before they began pushing each other.
Injured centre Samu Kerevi said the man had been swearing at the players in the vicinity of their families and had told Tui to “play with some heart”.
The fan was lead away by security guards while Tui, whose stepfather died during the week, was restrained by team-mates.
Rugby Australia have launched an investigation into the incident.
“The fact that he [Tui] was even on the field speaks volumes,” Kerevi wrote on his Instagram page.
Australian media widely reported that after the match a distraught Tui had told his team-mates, who wore black armbands in support, that he needed to take a break from the game and would not play again this season.
“We’ll see how the week pans out and go from there,” Cheika told reporters at Brisbane airport on Sunday when asked if Tui would travel with the team. “I’d say it’s unlikely, based on what we spoke about last night.
“His stepfather’s just passed away . . . he needs to just be with his family and be together.”
Cheika said that while the fan’s reaction was unwarranted he could understand why there was some frustration with the team’s performances.
They have won just two of their seven matches this season and Saturday’s result was their first loss to the Pumas in Australia in 35 years.
“I understand how fans get disappointed. I’m disappointed as well,” Cheika said. “I saw he was there in his Wallaby jersey as well, its not like he doesn’t want us to win.
“He wants us to win badly. Sometimes that goes pear-shaped.
“There’s a lot of supporters out there, no matter what they’re always behind you.
“You’ve got to always be mindful of those people. It’s the national team and that’s what people do, a lot of supporters [felt] the same.”
The Wallabies, who are bottom of the Rugby Championship, next travel to Port Elizabeth to face South Africa on September 29th before taking on the Pumas in Salta on October 6th.
Cheika said they had to come together to show fans they were tracking in the right direction towards next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
“We’re going to have to get more consistent . . . [bring] better quality play and be more consistent with it and be accountable for that,” he said.
“You can’t be talking about keeping the faith, you’ve got to show it.”