New Zealand Rugby
McAlister reconciles with North Harbour
July 16, 2011
McAlister hopes to join his new side Toulouse sooner rather than later © Getty Images
Discarded All Blacks centre Luke McAlister has apologised to North Harbour after his absence from training but is still pursuing an early release from his NZRU contract.
The former Blues centre, who was left out of Graham Henry's squad for the Tri-Nations, failed to show for North Harbour training prior to their ITM Cup match against Otago. It emerged McAlister was dealing with family matters and has since asked to be released early from ITM Cup duties in order to join his new side, Top 14 champions Toulouse, ahead of the original arrival date.
McAlister has released a statement apologising for his conduct and admitted his communication skills in dealing with the matter were poor. "After the Super Rugby season and the last week or so dealing with some family matters, I did not communicate as well as I should have with Harbour coach Liam Barry around my assembly with North Harbour," McAlister said. "I have apologised to him and will do so to the team.
"It caused an unwanted distraction and I accept that I now need to make good for that. I also apologise to North Harbour and the NZRU for any issues it has caused them."
Despite the apology, McAlister is still pursuing an early release from North Harbour duties. The NZRU reportedly demanded NZ$60,000 (£31,000) from Toulouse to allow him to leave prior to the end of his cotnract, an option which Toulouse head coach Guy Noves dismissed. McAlister will now work alongside North Harbour to sort out his immediate future in New Zealand.
"I am simply looking at the options so I can ensure I have a clear plan around how I manage my obligations in New Zealand and in due course France," McAlister said. "I fully appreciate the opportunities and support I have had from North Harbour and the NZRU over a long period of time. I know any release could only come about with their agreement and support.
"In the meantime my focus is on contributing as best I can for North Harbour."
McAlister will re-join his North Harbour team-mates on Sunday and will hope to be part of the squad which will take on Tasman on Tuesday July 19.
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