Former All Black Jerry Collins had been struggling at his Japanese club and had been dropped for younger players who showed more promise.
A spokesman for Collins' former club Yamaha, Jin Hasegawa, told the Weekend Herald he didn't play many games this season due to weak form.
"His performance was not good and some of the other younger players were doing well so we wanted to give them a go instead," Mr Hasegawa said. Collins has been in police custody at Hamamatsu City since his arrest last weekend at a department store for possession of a knife with a 17cm blade.
He says it was for protection, but it is illegal to carry such knives in Japan and he is expected to remain in custody for several days.
Mr Hasegawa said Collins had been battling shoulder and back pain, but had shown no sign of being troubled before his contract with the club expired on February 28.
Before that he was largely doing "rehabilitation training rather than regular practice" and it was considered unlikely his contract would be renewed.
Mr Hasegawa believed he may have stayed in Japan to settle his affairs like pay taxes, close his bank account and return his apartment key.
Despite being sidelined, Collins still trained seriously. "Collins was a wonderful and very professional player and former All Black and we were pleased to have him."
Fans must be deeply shocked since the arrest. "It is a really shame ... He was a great player and was very good with relating to the public. "
The club has not spoken to him since his arrest.
"The police said we can't meet with him while they are carrying out their investigation.
"He is only able to meet with his lawyer and embassy staff."
The Herald revealed yesterday Collins appeared disoriented when approached at the counter of the store he was in - pacing back and forth rummaging around and saying random words that made no sense.
Liquid Kitchen, an Aussie ex-pat bar on the outskirts of Biora-Tamachi, an entertainment district on the north side of Hamamatsu station, sells real meat pies - a rare commodity in suburban Japan, and Collins used to frequent it.
Bar owner Marty Gibbons said he always found him quiet and mellow.
"He would sometimes come in with the rugby boys on the weekends for a few beers."
Collins played 48 tests for the All Blacks including one as captain.By Simon Scott