Western Force player Willie Ripia has quit his Super Rugby team after club officials confronted the New Zealander with CCTV footage of him stealing from teammates.
Senior officials from the Force met with Ripia on Tuesday and presented the player with video footage that showed him stealing money from the wallets and bags of teammates. The meeting concluded with Ripia resigning from the team.
Ripia reportedly disconnected his Australian phone and flew to his hometown, Rotorua, in New Zealand yesterday.
Players from the Perth side reported that money had begun to go missing from lockers as early as last season, and although the sums of missing money were small in total, they began to build up over time.
Ripia joined the club last season on a two year contract and appeared in seven games. The Australian is reporting the 26-year-old had been receiving help from the club regarding gambling issues.
The circumstances of Ripia's will undoubtedly affect the Force’s preparation ahead of next month’s start to the Super-15 season, but in special circumstances, the Australia Rugby Union has granted the team permission to recruit a replacement for the five-eighth position.
Ripia was hoping to live in Australia long enough to qualify for residency and eventually play for the Wallabies, but his career could now be over.
Former rugby star Wendell Sailor told members of the media yesterday that although it was such an uncommon event, it may force Ripia out of the game.
Sailor described the immense amount of trust teammates must have amongst each other and that such actions would make it almost impossible for Ripia to once again bond with a playing group.