James Stannard (centre, standing) is in hospital after allegedly being coward punched.n rugby sevens captain James Stannard was having a “nice conversation” with a British national before he was allegedly king-hit outside a Sydney kebab shop in the early hours of Good Friday.
Stannard was standing outside the Coogee shop about 3.10am when the “unprovoked assault” occurred, according to NSW Police, which has left the veteran player with a fractured skull.
Inspector Steve Egbers says the two men were “seemingly having a nice conversation” at the time.
“When he (Stannard) fell to the ground he’s done some damage to the side of his head,” Insp Egbers told reporters in Maroubra on Friday.
The 35-year-old was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital where he remains in a stable condition. His injuries have forced him out of the Commonwealth Games.
Stannard played a Games warm-up match against New Zealand on Thursday.
Another practice game against the Kiwis scheduled for Friday had been cancelled, meaning the team had the first day of the Easter break off.
“Stannard was with a group of teammates, along with head coach Andy Friend, members of team management and their family members at the time of the incident,” Rugby said in a statement.
The group had earlier been at a farewell dinner for Friend which was arranged by team management.
Insp Egbers said Stannard would remain in hospital for “a little while” under observation.
“He’s progressing OK. He’s got a sore head. He’s conscious and talking,” the inspector said.
The 22-year-old British national accused of assaulting Stannard tried to flee the scene but was detained by teammates Lewis Holland and Ben O’Donnell with the help of Friend, Rugby confirmed.
They held the assailant until police arrived.
The British national was subsequently interviewed at Maroubra Police Station and charged with assault occasioning bodily harm. He was granted bail to appear at Waverley Local Court on April 19.
Stannard was to play a crucial part in the side’s Gold Coast campaign in mid-April.
His withdrawal will gut the team looking to improve on the bronze medal won in Glasgow four years ago.
Stannard is in his last season on the World Series circuit and was due to play in the World Cup in the United States in July.