A Super 14 rugby player is before the courts over a carpark assault that left a man needing medical treatment.

The incident is one of a string of court cases in which alleged or convicted offenders have been granted name suppression.

The alleged assault occurred outside a pub in Mangawhai, north of Auckland, last August. The player has been granted name secrecy until his next court appearance.

Warkworth police investigated the incident, and a 25-year-old man was arrested several weeks later.

He appeared in the Warkworth District Court in October charged with injuring with intent to injure.

Sergeant Bede Haughey of Warkworth confirmed that a 25-year-old man had been arrested, but said he could not comment further as the matter was before the court.

Over the past year, other top rugby players have been in trouble over assaults.

In December, Taranaki rugby player Paul Perez, 23, was fined $750 for choking and punching his pregnant partner. At his sentencing in New Plymouth, he sought a discharge without conviction to avoid damaging his chances of playing rugby overseas.

This was rejected by Judge Robert Murfitt, who told him he used "substantial violence" and convicted him on two charges of assault and one of intentional damage

Last April, Blues halfback Taniela Moa was stood down for a Super 14 match against the Lions after claims he was involved in a bottle-throwing incident at an Auckland rugby club.

But it is recent cases in which high-profile people have been granted name suppression that have outraged anti-violence groups.

Jill Proudfoot of Shine* said special treatment of celebrities meant they were able to carry on with their career without learning some sort of lesson.

"I think it's because it's seen that the punishment will be greater for them than for Joe Bloggs who hasn't got a high profile.

"But on the other hand there comes a responsibility to behave in a way that doesn't attract that sort of attention."

Ms Proudfoot said suppression of athletes' names sent a message to children, who looked up to players as role models, that violence was okay.

"It's saying that being aggressive means being a hero. It's saying that the person is so important and so cool that they can get away with that sort of thing."

She said if the Rugby Union and other sports bodies took a stand by implementing a policy under which players who had been convicted of a violent crime could no longer play, there would be a change in behaviour.

"We need to ask, do we want thugs representing our country?"

Kiwi Party leader Larry Baldock said name suppression for anyone - famous or not - should be lifted once a person was found guilty.

He cited the recent case of a Manawatu businessman convicted of downloading about 300,000 pornographic images - many of children.

The man was sentenced to four months' home detention but granted permanent name suppression, which Mr Baldock said was "ridiculous".

The Criminal Procedure Bill before Parliament, which is jointly promoted by the Ministry of Justice and the Law Commission, includes tougher laws for people applying for name suppression.

The Cabinet is to look at the recommendations this year with a view to introducing the bill soon after.

HIGH-PROFILE SUPPRESSION CASES
This month: A Manawatu businessman is granted permanent name suppression when sentenced to four months' home detention for downloading about 300,000 pornographic images, many of children.

This month: Name suppression for a well-known comedian is continued. He is defending a charge of unlawful sexual connection with a child under 12.

Last month: A former member of Parliament from the South Island charged with indecent assault of a 13-year-old girl gets continued name suppression.

December 2009: A New Zealand Olympian accused of sex and violence offences that include raping his wife has continued name suppression.

November 2009: A prominent musician is granted permanent name suppression when he is discharged without conviction on a charge of indecently assaulting a teenage girl.