A British man charged with assault over an incident that left Australia’s Commonwealth Games rugby sevens captain with a fractured skull is understood to be a backpacker from Newcastle.
James Stannard is “doing very well” but has been ruled out of the coming competition as a result of the injury that required emergency hospital treatment in the early hours of Friday morning.
There will be “no long-term damage” to Stannard and it is understood he will be out of hospital soon, according to coach Andy Friend.
Police said two men had been talking outside a kebab shop in the coastal Coogee suburb of Sydney when one allegedly punched the other in the head without provocation, sending him to the ground with a single blow.
Sam Oliver, 22, who is reportedly from Newcastle and had been backpacking in Australia, has been ordered to appear in court charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm on April 19.
Talking about Stannard, Mr Friend told reporters: “He’s doing really well. He’s had a clearance from the neurosurgeon, the ear, nose and throat specialist as well.
“Every indication at this point in time, is that there’ll be no long-term damage to James, he will be fine.
“There was a suggestion he may even leave hospital today.
“I think at this point in time, personal choice of James and his family is that he’ll look to stay another day, but all the indications are very, very positive for James, which is the most important thing.”
Ben Whitaker, a general manager at Australian rugby’s governing body, said Stannard was an “extremely important” member of the squad and they had been left “shocked” by the incident.
The captain, team mates Lewis Holland and Ben O’Donnell and coach Andy Friend had been out for dinner before the alleged attack, he told media.
In the seconds after Stannard was assaulted the trio chased down his assailant and held him until police arrived.
“They did what they had to do, such an unfortunate incident and something they had to do due to the state James was in,” Whitaker said.
Stannard was made captain of Australia’s Commonwealth Games side earlier in March after skipper Lewis Holland was ruled out due to a hamstring injury.
The 35-year-old was expected to retire at the end of this season, having played for Australia since 2010.
In his debut year, Stannard captained the side to victory at the London Sevens at Twickenham and played for Australia at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
With matches beginning on April 14, the Gold Coast competition would have been Stannard’s third Commonwealth Games.
New South Wales Police inspector Steven Egbers told the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday: “Two men were talking with each other, seemingly having a nice conversation, and then one of the males has punched the other male in the head area, causing him to fall to the ground, and he’s hit his head in the pavement.
“When he fell to the ground he’s done some damage to the side of his head, and the offender ran off.”
Oliver was been bailed on “strict” conditions until his appearance at Waverley Local Court, police said.