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Aleki Martin Morris (26), who goes by the surname Morris-Lome, had his case called at the Dunedin District Court yesterday where he was also charged with careless driving, following an alleged incident in Moray Pl on August 29.
Court documents alleged Morris recorded a level of 742mcg of alcohol per litre of breath — nearly three times the legal limit.
The midfield back, who has completed a builder’s apprenticeship, was the only player in the Otago squad who played a part in every game last season and he has been back on the field in blue and gold this year.
Otago Rugby Union general manager Richard Kinley called Morris an “integral part of our squad” and said he was aware of the charges.
He could not comment on whether the incident might jeopardise the player’s role in the team.
The union would wait until the court process was completed before any employment procedure commenced, Mr Kinley said.
That would inevitably involve the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association, he told the Otago Daily Times.
It is not Morris’ first time before the court.
According to ODT archives, the defendant was convicted of drink-driving as a 19-year-old in June 2013.
His breath-alcohol level on that occasion was 668mcg.
Morris was fined $650 and banned from driving for six months.
The news of the new drink-driving charge comes just days after the player revealed he would be moving to the United States in 2021.
Morris has signed a two-season contract to play for the New England Free Jacks in Major League Rugby.
There he will link up again with his former Otago Boys’ High School coach Ryan Martin, who was thrilled by the signing.
“Aleki is a super-electric midfield back who possesses the ability to tear opposition defences apart with his fend-speed combo,” Mr Martin said.
He called Morris “a brutal defender who loves big contacts and reads the game incredibly well”.
The defendant is on bail until his next appearance in October.
Morris was contacted for comment.