ENGLAND centre Manu Tuilagi last night added to the litany of offences committed by members of Martin Johnson’s World Cup squad after the Samoan-born star was formally warned by police and fined £3,000 for disorderly behaviour having jumped from a ferry in Auckland.
The 20-year-old swam to a nearby pier at the Auckland Ferry Terminal where he was greeted by police and taken to Auckland Central Police station.
“I’m really sorry. It was a silly thing to do and I apologise to everybody for any inconvenience,” said Tuilagi, whose fine will be paid to the Rugby World Cup’s Christchurch earthquake appeal. Manager Johnson added: “This was an irresponsible thing to do. Manu has been disciplined internally and I have warned him about his future conduct.”
Tuilagi (right) was one of the few England players to have emerged from a disappointing World Cup campaign with his playing reputation enhanced.
But the £4,800 fine he received for breaking the tournament’s commercial guidelines by sporting a branded gum-shield, coupled with this latest transgression will only serve to heighten the pressure on his beleaguered boss Johnson.
A series of insipid performances on the field – culminating in Saturday’s defeat against France – have been compounded by events off it, which in turn raised doubts about the World Cup winning skipper’s ability to maintain discipline and control his squad.
A group of players, including vice-captain Mike Tindall, enjoyed a night out at a Queenstown bar at the start of the tournament which was hosting a dwarf themed night.
Tindall, who recently married the Queen’s granddaughter Zarah Phillips, was caught on CCTV footage talking to a woman and later issued an apology for misleading the England management over his movements that night, having initially claimed he did not go on to another bar afterwards.
Johnson also revealed during the tournament that he had disciplined James Haskell, Dylan Hartley and Chris Ashton after a female member of staff in their Dunedin hotel complained of being subjected to lewd comments.
England’s lack of self-control also spread to the pitch. Dave Alred, the kicking coach, and the strength and conditioning staffer, Paul Stridgeon, were suspended after they illegally swapped balls used for conversions by fly-half Jonny Wilkinson during the pool game against Romania.
Lock Courtney Lawes missed two group games for kneeing Argentina’s hooker Mario Ledesma, while winger Delon Armitage sat out Saturday’s quarter-final defeat after he was cited for a high tackle on Chris Paterson during the unconvincing win over Scotland.