Former NRL player protects children as brawl breaks out

A FORMER Newcastle Knights and Melbourne Storm rugby league player jumped into the crowd to protect wives and children after fights broke out in the stands of a Super League match in the UK.

Junior Sa'u, who made his debut for New Zealand in 2009 at the Four Nations tournament, was one of several players who leapt the fence and scuffled with fans while attempting to stop wives and children being squashed by their own fans at a match between the Salford Red Devils and Huddersfield Giants at John Smith's Stadium.

Sa'u and several other players from Salford were shown rushing over to where their own fans were located in the ground apparently in response to cries from help from their own family members situated near the pitch.

Following the match, which Salford won 24-22, the club tweeted it was aware of the incident and said it would be looking to identify those involved.

A tweet on the club's official Twitter account read: 'We'd like to apologise for the behaviour of some of our fans today. We'll be working with @Gianrsrl to find those involved. We do not condone any behaviour of the sort.'

Sa'u appeared at the forefront of scuffles and it is believed his family were in the stands. The hard-running centre is in the second year of a contract with Salford after being named Supporters' Player of the Year in his first season.

Salford fan Lesley Kaneen attended the game with her elderly father and told the MailOnline how the players had rushed to the aid of their families.

"There were a bunch of mindless idiots in the crowd who have nothing at all to do with Salford and they were out to cause trouble from the start," she said.

"It's a tradition for the players to come over to the fans at the end of the game after they've won and to the credit of the families of the players, they actually sit with all the fans. But they were being pushed and shoved by these thugs and the players, rightly in my mind, jumped in to defend them.

"There were young children crying their eyes out, frightened to death - it was just horrible. The wife of Salford player Junior Sa'u was in the crowd clutching her young baby to her chest and you've got these idiots behind stupid and pushing and shoving."

She added: "We were sat about ten rows from all the trouble and saw the whole thing and I can honestly say I've never seen anything like it at a rugby game before, and nor has my dad who has been going for 50-odd years.

"I'm a true Red and I can guarantee that to a man, each one of them will be found and banned by the club, and the 800-strong travelling support made up of real fans will do all they can to make it happen."

Tony Townsend, treasurer of the Huddersfield Giants Supporters Association, said: "I saw one steward getting an absolute pasting; it was horrific to see.

"It's just so disappointing because I've never seen anything like this before at a rugby match and it is very damaging to the sport's reputation. The scenes were really ugly."

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