New Zealander Willie Ripia, dispatched from the Western Force this week for stealing from his teammates, has returned home to deal with his gambling issues.
The disgraced flyhalf said in a statement, issued through his management team, that he wants to be in a "family environment" where he can get the necessary support to cope with his problems.
Ripia resigned (some would say he was pushed) after Force officials confronted him with CCTV footage of incidents in which he was caught stealing from his teammates in the locker rooms.
The 26-year-old had been receiving counselling for a chronic gambling problem for some time, but it didn't seem to help.
In a statement issued on Thursday Ripia's management said the player has "returned to New Zealand to be supported by his family in Rotorua" as he works through serious issues relating to gambling.
"Willie will be in a supportive family environment, while he engages professional support to help him address his gambling problem," the statement said.
"Willie is devastated with the impact gambling has had on him and is determined to work through his problem.
"He is deeply remorseful for his actions and the damage and disruption they have had on those close to him and the Western Force.
"We would appreciate Willie and his family being given the necessary space and privacy to address and confront the matter."
The incidents of theft came to light when Force players complained to club officials about money going missing over the last few months.
It's understood Ripia denied any involvement until he was found out on CCTV.
Ripia played seven matches for the Force after joining them last year.
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