Three New Zealand Maori rugby players have been dumped from the touring squad after Canada refused to allow them into the country because of previous trouble with the law.

Taranaki lock Reece Robinson, Wellington first five-eighths Riki Flutey and North Harbour flanker Matua Parkinson have been replaced in the touring side by Auckland's Shannon Paku, Waikato's Wayne McEntee and Otago's Warren Smith.

The Canadian authorities said Robinson had an assault conviction, Flutey had an assault charge hanging over him as a result of an incident in Argentina, and Parkinson was not allowed in because of a drink-driving conviction in 2000.

Flutey was arrested in December 2001 in Rosario after an alleged assault while on tour with the Wellington rugby academy.

He spent a few days in police custody and was released after he pleaded not guilty in a Rosario court. However, he returned home and did not go back to Argentina.

The case did not stop him travelling with the Hurricanes to South Africa and Australia during this season's Super 12.

Robinson pleaded guilty earlier this year to assault and obstructing police after an incident in Napier.

He admitted to punching a patron at a bar before swapping shirts with his brother in an effort to confuse police. He was unavailable for comment last night.

New Zealand Rugby Union deputy chief executive Steve Tew said: "The Canadian High Commission has tried their best to help but their hands are tied by the laws of their country."

New Zealand Maori coach Matt Te Pou said he was disappointed for the players concerned and the team but nothing could be done about it.

"Fortunately there is a strong depth of talent in Maori rugby. What is bad luck for one player is good fortune for another."

The touring side leave Auckland today for Calgary via Los Angeles for three games in Canada, two against the Canadian national team.

- NZPA