All Blacks rugby forward Sione Lauaki has been charged today with assault over an incident in a Hamilton bar last week.

Lauaki, 28, is due to appear in Hamilton District Court on March 23.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs have decided to leave the loose forward out of their side to face the Crusaders in a Super 14 match on Friday night.

"Sione and I have decided that in light of the week that he has had, that the right thing to do is not play him in this game," coach Ian Foster said.

"We will fully support Sione over the next few weeks."

Foster believed the rest of his squad had been able to avoid being distracted by the issue.

"It's something that you never want to happen, but it's a reality of life that things get chucked at you as a team and we've just got to learn how to deal with it," he said.

"I think the team has dealt with it really well. It's been a good process we've gone through."

The Chiefs, in a statement, said Lauaki had been charged after an investigation by police.

It said neither the franchise nor the player would make any comment on the matter until it had been through the court process.

Lauaki, 28, was serving a two-match suspension for a dangerous tackle when the incident occurred.

The ban ended last weekend, allowing him to be eligible for selection again this week.

Chiefs
Mils Muliaina (captain), Lelia Masaga, Richard Kahui, Callum Bruce, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Stephen Donald, Brendon Leonard, Colin Bourke, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Romana Graham, Craig Clarke, Nathan White, Aled de Malmanche, Sona Taumalolo.

Reserves: Vern Kamo, Ben Afeaki, Culum Retallick, Luke Braid, Junior Poluleuligaga, Mike Delany, Dwayne Sweeney.

- NZPA