Crusaders say alleged homophobic behaviour down to 'selfie gone wrong'

George Bridge has been identified as the player at the centre of alleged 'homophobic behaviour' Shaun Roy/Gallo Images/Gallo Images

All Blacks Richie Mo'unga and George Bridge are free to play for the Crusaders this weekend while an investigation is carried out into their alleged offensive behaviour while in South Africa.

NZ Rugby has asked its independent complaint service to handle the allegations that emerged following separate late-night incidents in Pretoria and Cape Town this month.

One of the accusations surrounds star five-eighth Mo'unga allegedly spitting at a woman while winger Bridge is accused of being part of a group identified as making homophobic slurs and acting in an intimidating manner.

The pair are rising stars of New Zealand rugby and set to play a key role as the Crusaders chase a third successive Super Rugby title.

Crusaders chairman Colin Mansbridge told journalists the pair wouldn't be stood down and at this stage were considered available for Saturday's match against the Blues in Christchurch.

Mansbridge agreed with NZ Rugby chief rugby officer Nigel Cass's assessment that both incidents entail allegations that are "very serious".

"These allegations are about abuse, inappropriate and offensive behaviour, and we do not tolerate this," Cass said.

"We have very strong values of respect, inclusion and tolerance in Rugby - there is no place for the type of behaviour that has been described.

"At the same time, the players are refuting the details of the claims made. Because the nature of these allegations is serious, it is important that we carefully look at these claims without prejudice or assumptions."

A Pretoria woman alleged Mo'unga spat beer at her and her friends at a bar following a game between the competition-leading Crusaders and the Bulls on May 10.

The unnamed woman told Radio New Zealand Mo'unga was unapologetic about the incident on the night but was contrite the following morning when contacted via social media.

She kept what she claims is a screenshot of an apology from the nine-Test veteran, stating he "obviously was intoxicated" and had no recollection of his actions.

The Crusaders have vehemently defended Bridge of any wrongdoing in the second incident at a Cape Town fast food outlet a week later. Coach Scott Robertson said Bridge was the only Crusaders player involved in the incident in which at least two gay men were upset by what they perceived as behaviour that ridiculed them.

Bridge was said to be upset that his attempt at light-hearted interaction had blown up into negative headlines.

"George said 'Mate I just want to have a photo with you' ... there was no interaction with anyone else. That's where the misinterpretation came. A selfie gone wrong really."

Cass said NZ Rugby will attempt to contact the aggrieved parties in both cases and urged them to lodge formal complaints.

Complainants from both incidents were reportedly seeking surveillance camera footage as proof of their allegations.