A New Zealand under-20 player accused of raping a South African woman publicly identified himself on Thursday and denied the alleged sexual assault in a Cape Town hotel took place.
Forward Nathan Harris, who had not previously been named as the player at the centre of the allegations, said he wanted to make his identity known and clarify that no other players were involved.
Harris admitted breaking team rules by allowing a woman into his room last Friday night following the team's loss to South Africa in the final of the Junior World Championship.
But he denied a rape allegation subsequently made by a 22-year-old Cape Town woman which has sparked an investigation by South African police.
“I want to say very strongly that I am innocent of the allegation made against me,” Harris said in a statement issued on his behalf by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU).
“However, I should not have allowed a woman to enter my room,” he added. “This was against team rules.”
Harris said while he could not discuss the allegations in detail because of the police investigation, he wanted to apologise for letting down his teammates and family.
“The past five days have been a very stressful and painful time for me and my family,” he said. “I have learnt a lot and now I am hoping for a good outcome so I can get on with my life.”
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew told reporters earlier this week that the player had been drinking before the alleged incident at the Southern Sun hotel in Newlands, Cape Town.
Tew also pledged that the NZRU would fully cooperate with the South African police probe.
Police have said the woman who made the allegations told investigators she was also drinking on the night in question and remembered little about what happened.