NRL star Luciano Leilua is ‘upset’ about being charged with a range of domestic violence offences on Monday, with his lawyer indicating he ‘denies any wrongdoing.’
The 26-year-old North Queensland Cowboys player was arrested and charged with two counts relating to domestic violence, accused of assaulting a 26-year-old woman who is known to him and allegedly smashing her phone.
NSW Police confirmed they were called to a Harrington Park home, in Sydney’s south-west, around 1pm on Monday, after reports of a domestic violence incident.
Officers attended and arrested Leilua, who was then taken to Camden Police Station, where he was charged with common assault (DV); damage or destroy property (DV).
He was granted bail to appear at Campbelltown Local Court on October 11.
Leilua broke his silence on Tuesday, through his lawyer Elias Tabchouri, who said his client would be pleading not guilty.
‘I can confirm that Mr Leilua denies any wrongdoing and will be defending these matters vehemently,’ Mr Tabcouri told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘Mr Leilua has never been charged with any matters of violence in the past and is upset by the allegations that have been made against him, as he is opposed to violence of any type. It is not in his nature.’
Mr Tabcouri also confirmed there was no Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) in place that prevented Leilua living with his partner.
The 114kg second rower was due to represent Samoa at the Rugby League World Cup in England starting on October 15, but his place in the tournament is now clouded.
He is ‘very keen’ to represent the tiny island country alongside NRL stars like Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton and Junior Paulo – but did not fly out as scheduled with the team.
‘At this stage it is unclear what the situation is. These matters are being determined as we speak,’ Mr Tabcouri said of whether Leilua will be donning the Samoan shirt at the World Cup.
‘Mr Leilua voluntarily chose not to fly out with his teammates as scheduled to allow these matters to be addressed.’
The matter has also been brought to the attention of the NRL Integrity Unit who are liaising with the Cowboys, a NRL spokesperson said.
The club also confirmed it had been made aware of an alleged incident regarding Leilua, which resulted in police charges.
‘The club is gathering further information and assisting the NRL Integrity Unit as well as providing support to all parties involved,’ a club statement said.
‘Further comment will be made in due course.’
It is unclear whether the NRL will enact its controversial no-fault stand-down policy, which can be automatically enacted for charges that bring with them a minimum 11-year prison sentence.
While Leilua’s case doesn’t fall in that category, the NRL has previously stood down players charged with domestic violence under the discretionary part of the policy.