Australian lock Justin Harrison today admitted making a racial slur against a black South African opponent during a Super 12 match last weekend.
Harrison, who is due to join Ulster next season, apologised for racially abusing Cats winger Chumani Booi after the comments had been incorrectly attributed to his New South Wales Waratahs team-mate Nathan Grey.
“I’m extremely disappointed for any grief and hurt that I have caused Chumani Booi over a comment I made during the match,” said Harrison.
“It happened in the heat of battle and in a moment of frustration but it’s certainly no excuse. I offer a public apology to Chumani, the Cats, Nathan Grey, my team-mates and the community for what I said.
“I’m also disappointed that Nathan’s name has been dragged through the press when he is innocent.”
Harrison stepped forward after Grey, a former Australia international, reacted angrily to claims he was the culprit. The Cats lodged an official complaint, believing it was Grey who had made the comments.
But Grey said: “I am personally offended by the reports because I consider remarks of the type I am alleged to have made to be appalling in every respect.”
The matter now rests with the SANZAR judiciary process and New South Wales Rugby Union will wait for a report from the Designated Disciplinary Official (DDO) before deciding on their own course of action.
“We considered standing Justin down or conducting our own hearing but believe due process must be followed,” said NSWRU chief executive Fraser Neill.
“To his credit Justin came to us and admitted he was responsible and has since apologised.”