New Zealand Rugby
McAlister seeks early NZRU exit
ESPNscrum Staff
July 13, 2011

All Blacks centre Luke McAlister has been omitted from North Harbour's opening game of the ITM Cup after he failed to turn up for training and has reportedly asked to be released early from his contract.

McAlister, who will join French Top 14 champions Toulouse for the 2011-12 season, was due to line-up for his club side North Harbour in their opening ITM Cup tie against Otago. However, the 30-cap New Zealand international failed to turn up for training and has since been left out of the squad.

"We fully expected him to turn up yesterday (Monday) but he hasn't arrived so he won't be included for the (Otago) match," North Harbour coach Liam Barry said. "All players in the Super 15 knew they had to front in this unusual, congested year on July 11. All our Blues players have done that, and Ben Afeaki from the Chiefs was here on Monday. It's pretty simple. That's what you expect from professional footballers."

According to McAlister's father, Charlie, the Kiwi centre missed training because of his ill son. "Luke didn't make training on Monday for a reason that we are aware of, which is to do with his son who has been very ill," he told Radiosport. "He was born with a pretty serious heart condition and in the last couple of weeks it been really tough on him and his father Luke. It's been a hell of a time in hospital the last 10 days in particular in large time blocks. That's the reason he wasn't there on Monday."

However, it was later confirmed that McAlister was seeking an early release from his contract in order to join up with French side Toulouse prior to his original arrival date of November. McAlister was recently omitted from New Zealand's Tri-Nations squad and according to NZRU CEO Steve Tew wishes to leave North Harbour. "It's a pretty messy situation and one that we'd certainly prefer to see avoided," Tew said, talking to Radiosport. "When players sign a contract they expect us to deliver on our side of the contract as you would imagine we'd expect the same."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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