A rugby player has pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman with intent to rape her when his team visited Gisborne last October.

Mid Canterbury player Kolinio Yabia Tamanitoakula, 25, appeared in Gisborne District Court yesterday via audio visual-link from Timaru yesterday.

Judge Warren Cathcart remanded Tamanitoakula on bail for sentencing on June 9. Pre-sentence and cultural reports were ordered.

The Fijian national was assisted by an interpreter.


Counsel Alistair Clarke said Tamanitoakula wanted his upcoming sentence also to be via AV link but Judge Cathcart refused.

Tamanitoakula has to come to the Gisborne court in person; the complainant had the right to see him sentenced.

Clarke also asked for restorative justice, saying his client wanted to personally apologise to the woman.

The assault happened in Gisborne after a representative rugby game in Ruatoria. It happened at a time when New Zealand rugby was under fire for other player misconduct.

Mid-Canterbury Rugby CEO Ian Patterson said Tamanitoakula was taken "out of the team environment" following the incident and has "stayed outside of it".

"We are appalled at Koli, and his behaviour was wrong. It was right for him to take responsibility for his actions and plead guilty.

"After this incident, Mid-Canterbury Rugby reiterated the high standard of personal behaviour we expect from our representative players."

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew supported the comments.


"New Zealand Rugby expects players at all levels of the game to act with basic decency and within the law. We are shocked by Koli's actions and our thoughts go out to his victim."

- Gisborne Herald