Australia full-back Billy Slater agreed to “face the music” after his arrest by police in Manchester but he is unrepentant over the Kangaroos players’ decision to attend a nightclub in between matches in the World Cup.
The 30-year-old Melbourne and Queensland representative player spoke last night about the incident which rocked the Australian camp six days before their quarter-final against the USA.
Slater, who is one of the faces of the World Cup having featured heavily on posters advertising the tournament, went to a Manchester nightclub on a night out with his team-mates to celebrate their 50-0 win over Ireland when he became involved in a scuffle in the early hours and Greater Manchester Police were called.
He is thought to have been detained for about five hours at a police station before being declared the victim and released without charge.
Slater, sporting no visible injuries, said at a press conference: “I’ve been better, but I’m going OK.
“I’ll put my hand up for my own actions and face the music.
“I think we’ve got to be aware of the situations that we find ourselves in. I suppose it’s probably a bit of a wake-up call for everyone when we do go out.
“But I hope what happened last night doesn’t jeopardise anyone else going out and having a good time.”
The incident comes just four weeks after Australia forward Josh Papalii was threatened a knifepoint and robbed of £200 following a late-night drinking session in Manchester.
The tourists were warned then to be on their guard and, although Slater has not breached any rules, coach Tim Sheens will be alarmed that one of his high-profile players allowed himself to be put in a similar situation.
Although the Kangaroos, the tournament favourites, have moved serenely into the knockout stages, the off-field discretions are in danger of becoming a distraction in the way a series of disciplinary breaches disrupted England’s camp.
The episode also threatens to damage the clean-cut reputation of Slater, who was among the tryscorers in the Kangaroos’ 50-0 win over Ireland in Limerick on Saturday, taking his total to 20 in 22 Tests.
He was the player of the tournament in the last World Cup in 2008 when he also won the Golden Boot, and in 2009 was named Australia’s greatest athlete.
“I’m disappointed that the spotlight is on this, and not the tournament and the games we’ve played,” Slater said.
“I just want to express my disappointment there and move forward.
“We’re over here for eight weeks, and it’s important to enjoy and celebrate your wins, but obviously you’d like to stay away from these situations.”
Greater Manchester Police said the incident involving Slater took place outside Mojos in Bridge Street, Manchester, following a “verbal altercation” at about 2.40am.
A 40-year-old man from Manchester continues to be questioned on suspicion of affray.
The cases of Papalii and Slater follow a series of off-field disciplinary issues in the England camp, with Gareth Hock and Zak Hardaker both leaving the World Cup camp in disgrace following alleged alcohol-fuelled incidents.