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Tui cuts 2018 short after difficult week

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15th September, 2018
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Wallabies coach Michael Cheika doesn’t expect Lukhan Tui will join the team for their Rugby Championship tour after indicating his desire to sit out the remainder of the season.

A distraught Tui told teammates he needed to take a break from rugby after his altercation with a spectator who had allegedly pushed his sister moments after Saturday night’s 23-19 defeat to Argentina.

It was an ugly end to an already emotional week for Tui’s family – his stepfather died suddenly on Wednesday and the Wallabies wore black armbands in his honour during the game on the Gold Coast.

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 addressed the playing group after the match, telling them he needed to take time away from rugby and would cut his 2018 campaign short.

That means sitting out trips to South Africa and Argentina later this month – two hugely important clashes for a Wallabies team in the thick of a horrendous patch of form.

Cheika is hopeful he can talk Tui around but, as things stand, he doesn’t anticipate he will play in either of those matches.

“That remains to be seen. We’ll see how the week pans out and go from there,” he told reporters at Brisbane airport on Sunday.

“I’d say it’s unlikely, based on what we spoke about last night.”

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Cheika said he hadn’t seen or spoken to Tui since the match.

“I think it’s very unfortunate, the combination of factors – the game itself, also (Tui’s) situation,” he said.

“I don’t know about the fan or what he said or anything.

“I just don’t like to see that in the game.

“His stepfather’s just passed away … he needs to just be with his family and be together.”

Rugby Australia is seeking CCTV vision from inside the stadium and will await reports from venue security before determining what course of action will be taken.

Broadcast footage showed the man hurling abuse at players before the push-and-shove with Tui unfolded.

Other players, injured Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi and team staffers moved in to try and defuse the situation.

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The fan was later led away from the area by his throat by another spectator and was detained by Rugby Australia security guards, along with a second offending fan.

Police were on hand and took details but did not arrest either supporter.

“I don’t know the details of exactly what happened. As they do in all the grounds in Australia they’ll take a look at it and the people at the ground, they’re responsible for that stuff,” Cheika said.