All Black Sione Lauaki has been charged with assault following an incident at a Hamilton bar.

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

The incident occurred early on Friday morning while Lauaki was serving a two-week ban for his Chiefs side for a dangerous tackle in a Super 14 match against the Lions last month.

That ban ended this week, but the Chiefs have left the backrower out of the side to face the Crusaders tomorrow night. The Chiefs have a bye the next weekend, so the soonest Lauaki could return would be against the Brumbies on March 26.

However, the 17-test Lauaki may not return even then because he will have to face a disciplinary hearing at the New Zealand Rugby union.

An NZRU spokesperson said that process had been parked until after the court date.

Chiefs coach Ian Foster said yesterday: "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.

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

Lauaki was involved in what an eyewitness described as a "minor" fracas at Coyote Street Bar and Restaurant at about 2am on Friday.

The alleged victim is reported to have left the bar after a brief physical altercation with Lauaki but returned soon after with a police officer.

Lauaki went back to the station for questioning and was yesterday formally charged with assault.

Last year, Lauaki attended an anger management course after appearing in court on a charge of wilful damage following an incident at an Auckland motel on New Year's Day, where windows and a television were damaged.

In 2006, he was offered police diversion after assaulting a doorman.