20 Mar 2013

Former NZ rugby star hires local lawyer

9:20 am on 20 March 2013

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials say the former All Black Jerry Collins has appointed a local lawyer in Japan.

The consul from the New Zealand embassy visited Collins on Tuesday after he was arrested for carrying a 17-centimetre knife in a Japanese department store at the weekend.

It is illegal to carry a blade larger than 15 centimetres in Japan without police permission.

Foreign Affairs staff say Collins remains in reasonable spirits and has confirmed he is being treated well.

The 32-year-old, who played for New Zealand in 48 international games from 2001 to 2008, including the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, was arrested on Saturday in the central industrial city of Hamamatsu.

According to press reports, Collins caught a security guard's attention when he went behind a sales counter at the store and when approached, the New Zealander pulled out the 17-centimetre blade from his pocket and placed it on the counter.

Collins played for Yamaha Jubilo in Japan's Top League from 2011 and left the team last month when his two-year contract expired.

Earlier, lawyer Tim Castle told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme it is clear Collins did not have the knife for any sinister intent.

Jerry Collins father, Frank Collins, says getting information from Japan has been difficult and he does not know what is going on.

He says his son usually keeps to himself and stays out of trouble.

And Jerry Collins' former Japanese rugby club says his arrest is regrettable, but it is co-operating with the police.