Jerry Collins had 'misunderstanding' with gang in Japan

By Morgan Tait

Jerry Collins in 2008. File photo / NZ Herald
Jerry Collins in 2008. File photo / NZ Herald

Former All Black Jerry Collins says he had a "misunderstanding" with a gang in Japan and that he feared for his safety.

Speaking to Campbell Live from police custody in Hamamatsu, Collins said he was fine following his arrest at an upmarket department store for carrying a knife 10 days ago.

Collins was arrested after he went behind a shop counter and placed a knife on it in front of frightened staff.

Collins told John Campbell the incident occurred after a "misunderstanding'' with "a gang''.

It had escalated to such an extent that he feared for his life.

He believed he was being followed on the day of the incident.

Collins said he believed he wouldn't be attacked around so many people and was relieved to be arrested and taken away.

Rumours he was on drugs were not true and all tests had come back negative.

He said he was treated "very kindly and very generously'' and looked after as well as "humanly possible'' in the prison.

The "gang'' was understood to be made up of foreign workers, mainly Brazilian ex-pats, who had taken a dislike to foreign rugby players in the city.

Although the 32-year-old flanker has yet to be formally indicted, he is being held in custody for allegedly violating Japan's Swords and Firearms Control Law

The Herald revealed today that it took more than 30 Japanese police officers to take Collins into custody - despite the fact he didn't behave violently or resist arrest.

Police were called after a "sweating and anxious" Collins went into the shop.

When the first officer arrived on the scene and saw how big Collins was he immediately called for backup, Entetsu Department store division manager Katsuyuki Aono said.

Police suddenly began to pour into the basement floor of the department where food is sold and soon there were more than 30 officers surrounding him.

"The Japanese police were very small in comparison to him and they must have been worried," Mr Aono said.

It was still not known what penalty will be dished out to the rugby player, or when he would be released from the prison.

Collins' arrest certificate states he was arrested for carrying a 17cm "houcho (kitchen/carving knife) in public `without a valid reason', such as for work purposes.''

If it is classed as a kitchen knife he could face up to two years in prison and a fine of 300,000 yen ($3796).

If Collins was judged to be in possession of a sword he could face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 500,000 yen ($6328).

Collins, a 48-test All Black and one-time captain, joined Japanese rugby club Yamaha Engines Jubilo in 2011 but announced his resignation to coincide with his contract ending last month.

Marty Gibbons, owner of Aussie expat bar Liquid Kitchen, said Collins was a regular there and was never any trouble.

"Those guys are under the spotlight because they are representing Yamaha, so they usually keep out of trouble."

- additional reporting Simon Scott


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