Kangaroos superstar Billy Slater has broken his silence on the attack that occurred outside a Manchester nightclub in the early hours of Monday morning after a night out drinking with teammates, describing it as "a wake-up call" for all players.
While refusing to go into the exact details of what provoked the assault, an emotional Slater spoke about how disappointed for the pain it caused his family and that the incident has put a negative spotlight on the World Cup.
"I think we have to be aware of the situations we find ourselves in," he said.
"I suppose it is probably a bit of a wake up call for everyone when we do go out.
"But I hope what happened last night doesn't jeopardise anyone else going out and having a good time because that is certainly what I don't want."
But Slater said his main priority yesterday was ensuring his family back home knew he was okay after his wife Nicole posted this message on Instagram: "Someone thought it was ok to punch my husband in the face, because he thought he pushed in line. If he had king hit him and killed him I would have to raise my 2 kids alone. What has this world come to? I have already lost dad. Makes me sick. Think before u act, there is a family behind everyone. And your actions in that 2 sec can change people's lives 4 ever. This has to stop."
Slater said his wife was the first person he contacted after the attack.
"That was my main priority, to make sure my family knew I was okay," he said.
"It's pretty tough on them being over the other side of the world and hearing stuff like this.
"So that was my main priority, to make sure they knew I was okay."
Manchester police have confirmed Slater was in no way responsible for the incident and had only acted in self-defence.
The Kangaroos had been given a night off following their 50-0 win over Ireland and had been at a local nightclub Mojo's and were leaving at about 2.40am when Slater returned to the club to collect his jacket.
It is alleged another man was arguing with a staff member before he turned his frustrations on Slater.
Asked to explain exactly what occurred, Slater said: "I'm not going to sit here and go through the finer details of the event's of last night.
"I think it has been well documented and the police report has the facts in it.
"I'm disappointed that spotlight is on this and not the tournament and the games we've played.
"I just want to express my disappointment there and move forward."
Asked if he felt he had done anything wrong to provoke the situation, Slater said: "The report is there and you don't like to put yourself in these situations or find yourself in these situations but it is what it is and I'm hoping I can put it all behind me and move forward."
It is understood Slater will be available for Australia's World Cup quarter final against the United States on Saturday in Wales but he said at this point he hadn't contemplated the thought the incident could cost his place in the team.
"To be honest I haven't really tought abut that so much," he said.
"My main priority today was getting in contact with my family and making sure they knew I was okay."
Coach Tim Sheens would not comment about the incident but Slater said: "Tim was disappointed like I was that the focus is away from where it should be."
There was earlier speculation that another team member could have been involved but Manchester police denied that was the case.
Slater said he would not be pressing charges.
Asked if he could understand the criticism that players shouldn't be out drinking in the early hours of the morning while on tour at the World Cup, he said: "I can understand that perception too.
"We are over here for eight weeks and it is important to enjoy and celebrate your wins but obviously you'd like to stay away from these situations."
- The Daily Telegraph