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Nelson Asofa-Solomona banned for Kiwis' end-of-year Tests after Bali brawl

Melbourne Storm's Nelson Asofa-Solomona will miss New Zealand's three upcoming Tests as punishment for his involvement in an ugly Bali brawl.

The NRL and Storm also handed the Kiwi prop a suspended $15,000 fine but he is free to play in round one next season.

Asofa-Solomona will miss New Zealand's match against Australia in Wollongong next Friday, as well as two Tests against Great Britain during the Lions tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

It's a huge blow for the Kiwis, already without injured forwards Jesse Bromwich (toe) and James Fisher-Harris (pectoral), with the NRL delivering the bad news to the NZRL.

The international penalty is similar to that of Greg Inglis, who was stripped of the Kangaroos captaincy and missed two Tests against New Zealand and Tonga 12 months ago after he pleaded guilty to drink-driving.

The Storm and the NRL integrity unit both completed investigations into the hulking forward's role after shocking video emerged of him throwing wild punches at a man outside a bar.

It emerged that the 23-year-old was retaliating to Storm teammate Suliasi Vunivalu allegedly being king hit prior to the incident.

The NRL issued a statement on Friday saying the penalties took into account Asofa-Solomona's cooperation into the investigation and remorse.

"The sanctions take into account evidence which showed a degree of provocation contributed to the incident, Asofa-Solomona's cooperation with the NRL investigation and the remorse he has shown," the statement said.

"All clubs were advised prior to the start of the off-season that serious penalties would be imposed for all off-field incidents.

"The NRL expects exemplary behaviour from all players and any player who falls short of that standard will be sanctioned."

Vunivalu, who required stitches in his face, told News Corp he was punched in the head in an unprovoked attack.

"I didn't see it coming. I was lucky I didn't fall and hit my head because people would have been visiting in a coma from my hospital bed," Vunivalu told The Daily Telegraph.

"He (Asofa-Solomona) was just protecting me. Anyone would've done the same thing for their brother. What do we want him to do? He is a footy player so he isn't supposed to protect his mate? He would've done what any person would have done in his position."

The penalty has been imposed in conjunction with the Melbourne Storm.

The New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has been informed of the suspension

Asofa-Solomona had the support of fellow NRL players including Cronulla star Andrew Fifita, who said he would have reacted in a similar manner if it was one of his teammates.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona. Source: Photosport


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