Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Mills: Ryder had started drinking again

Jesse Ryder has been drinking again in recent weeks, and steps had been put in place to "reinvigorate" the support system around him well before he was brutally assaulted.

Police are adamant alcohol was not behind the "altercation" that took place just before Ryder was viciously attacked outside Aikmans bar early yesterday morning.

While they would not speculate on what else may have motivated the attack, they said it was not alcohol fuelled.

Heath Mills of the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association confirmed Ryder had consumed "one or two" drinks with teammates at the bar.

"He has drunk some alcohol over the last three or four weeks at one or two events," he said.

"When we became aware of that we tried to reinvigorate the support we've had around him."

Mr Mills had been working with Ryder through the association for about 10 years and was visibly upset over the attack.

He said there had been a number of "well documented" incidents and issues involving Ryder and alcohol in the past - and there was likely to be in the future as the player battled his personal problems.

But this attack was not due to Ryder drinking alcohol.

"We all know Jesse has struggled with some demons ... It has been made very clear to us by police that Jesse was having a few drinks with his team mates at the conclusion of their season ... but the actual assault was not alcohol-fuelled.

"There has been a support programme around Jesse in the last wee while, and some well-qualified medical people have been supporting him. I know of specific instances where Jesse has been drinking, but I'm not willing to comment on that."

Peter Clinton of Cricket Wellington said Ryder had not violated the conditions of his contract by consuming alcohol.

He confirmed there were alcohol "protocols" set for the team, as there was with many professional sports teams in New Zealand.

"My understanding of the events is that those protocols were being met."

He refused to comment further on the protocols or any special rules in place for Ryder following his previous alcohol-related indiscretions.

"We're just all focussed on Jesse and his health," he said.

Last night Aikmans bar was business-as-usual. Punters did not appear perturbed by what had happened there the night as they gathered for pre-Easter drinks.

- NZ Herald

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