Houston we have a problem

Leroy Houston, the surprise inclusion on the Wallabies’ end-of-year tour, is missing.

Houston, who bolted in the Australian midweek side – despite being only 19 – has now bolted from home a day before his side the Waratahs kick-off their Vodacom Super 14 campaign against the Reds.

NSW chief executive Fraser Neill said he believed the family had some idea of the youngster’s whereabouts.

“He hasn’t been home but they think they may know where he is but they’re not sure and they haven’t been able to contact him,” Neill said. “From the NSW point of view, we don’t know where Leroy is. He didn’t come to the launch, didn’t come to training and didn’t get on the plane to Brisbane. But firstly, that’s obviously a family issue and it’s extremely sensitive and you have to handle these things carefully.

“It’s especially sensitive when someone of that age is involved, and with the meteoric rise he’s had in profile and that sort of thing,” he said. “It’s something we take very seriously but handle very sensitively.

“As soon as we can, we’ll get in touch with Leroy to talk to him and take some positive action …,” Neill said. “We’ve got Masi, who’s our Pacific Islander liaison officer, and while Leroy is a Maori, Masi has lived in New Zealand most of his life, so he’s very familiar with the issues there as well. And I think that’s a very important part of that as well, the cultural sort of issues, being sensitive to them and being appreciative to what those issues are and dealing with it accordingly.

Coach Ewan McKenzie echoed Neil.

“We’ll just wait till we get to the bottom of things because the absence from training is more of a symptom than the problem,” McKenzie said. “We just want to get to the bottom of it as much as we can and help him develop a path to sort things out.”