Former Kiwis test centre Paul Whatuira, who was held last month in a secure mental health unit after allegedly assaulting two men in an early-morning attack, has been released and is “back to normal”, says Kiwis skipper Benji Marshall.
Whatuira spent time with the Kiwi camp last week as they prepared to face England early this morning in Huddersfield, west Yorkshire, where he plays for the Huddersfield Giants Super League club.
Whatuira shared a flat in Sydney with Marshall and Bronson Harrison when all three played at the Wests Tigers, and has met Marshall for drinks, lunch and then dinner on Tuesday with other Kiwis players.
“He’s good: he’s the same Paul that I know,” Marshall told the Sunday Star-Times. “I lived with Paul for a long time and to hear that stuff about him was definitely out of character and he was back to normal and seemed sweet to me.
“It was just good to see him. I haven’t seen him for a long time … it was like nothing had really even happened. I am not too sure of the circumstances of what went on, but he is the same Paul that I know.”
Whatuira also lunched with Tigers and Australia hooker Robbie Farah, who said: “I’m sure everyone back home will be glad to hear he is doing well now.”
British media reports suggested the incident involving Whatuira came after he had received medical treatment for extreme sleeplessness. Whatuira had also missed games during the Super League season after complaining of migraines.
He was arrested by police after allegedly attacking two men early one morning after leaving St Luke’s hospital where he was treated.
One lost teeth and suffered a broken nose in the incident.
After his arrest, Whatuira was taken by police to a secure unit in Bradford where he underwent a mental health assessment.
Wellington-born Whatuira won 16 caps for the Kiwis between 2004 and 2007, including playing a key role in the 2005 Tri-Nations-winning team.