All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizell has been stood down by the Highlanders for their Super Rugby Trans-Tasman opener against Queensland Reds on Friday.
The loose forward is facing allegations of assault on a woman at a Dunedin bar on Sunday and, although he hasn't formally been charged, the Highlanders believe it's best he isn't involved in this week's game.
Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark stresses Frizell is not being punished by the team, as police are still conducting inquiries on the incident, which occurred at the Vault 21 bar in the city centre.
"I think it is important for us all to remember, at this time, these are all allegations and no charges have been laid," Clark says.
"However, these have been a distraction for the player and the team. In the best interests of everyone concerned, we are going to omit Shannon from the team this week."
The 27-year-old 13-test international will be replaced by Hugh Renton in the starting XV against the newly crowned Super Rugby AU champions.
Although he confesses the incident had been a "massive distraction" for the club, Clark is confident Frizell won't be charged by police.
"I would be surprised," he insists. "That is just based on what I know... it is a personal opinion."
The incident is the latest in a series of indiscretions by Highlanders players over the past 12 months.
In August, an unidentified group were accused of disturbing guests at a Queenstown motel.
Last month, six players were stood down, after police were called to fullback Josh Ioane's house due to noise complaints.
Clark admits his squad need to be conscious of the consequeneces of their actions, hoping the players take some lessons away from a testing year.
"The one for me...is that if you put yourself in a compromising position you can put yourself in these situations," he says.
"For me, the challenge is making sure they are preparing themselves professionally and don't put themselves in a compromising position."
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