Super Rugby
George Moala discharged over brawl
ESPN Staff
May 6, 2015

Blues backline utility George Moala has been discharged without conviction after punching a man in an Auckland bar brawl, but his future with the team still hangs in the balance.

Moala, 24, appeared in Auckland District Court on Wednesday afternoon for sentencing on a charge of assaulting Clifford Matoka with intent to injure at Karangahape Rd bar Desi Lounge on December 20, 2012. Judge Rob Ronayne discharged him without conviction, but ordered him to pay $NZ2500 ($Aus2380) in emotional harm reparation to his victim.

A jury in January found Moala guilty of the charge, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison, but found Moala's 25-year-old brother, Siua, not guilty of taking part in the attack.

Insults were thrown between two groups at the bar and Moala was instrumental in the fight becoming physical, crown lawyer Josh Shaw said. Mr Shaw said that Moala punched and hit Mr Matoka as the latter lay on the dance floor injured while security staff attempted to intervene.Mr Matoka suffered a bad head laceration and lost a significant amount of blood in the attack.

Defence lawyer Paul Wicks, QC, said that Moala wasn't the main attacker and argued for a discharge without conviction.

Moala's family and coach Sir John Kirwan were in court to support him.

Judge Ronayne said Moala had an otherwise unblemished record, with Kirwan describing Moala as a humble man with a bright future who had been embarrassed by the charges.

"Mr Moala, you have let yourself, your family, and your employers down badly with this behaviour ... high profile brings with it a higher level of embarrassment," Judge Ronayne said.

The judge said the effects of a conviction on Moala and his young family would be out of proportion, as Moala would struggle to find work elsewhere. He said the very public sentencing was denunciation on its own.

The Blues franchise and New Zealand Rugby released a statement shortly after the sentencing, saying an employment process would be concluded over the coming weeks now the judicial process was complete.

"Meantime, George will be available for selection and continue to receive professional support in his personal development," the statement read.

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