Savea in war with media over treatment of All Black flyhalf
REACTION: Ardie Savea is not happy with how the standing down of six Highlanders players has been covered by New Zealand’s media – and he’s not afraid to show it.
Highlanders squad members Josh Ioane, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Sione Misiloi, Patelesio Tomkinson and Daniel Lienert-Brown were dropped from Friday’s match against the Crusaders following a breach of team protocol.
“There’s six guys who are unavailable through letting the team down around their standards; broke the code that we live by and it’s all around their professional habits,” coach Tony Brown told media following the squad announcement.
“They just let the team down, the leaders and the whole organisation so they won’t be available for selection.
“They have to earn their right to get selected again so we’ll see how they go for the rest of the week at training and see how they go next week.”
All Black flyhalf Ioane was previously stood down by Otago for one match during last year’s provincial season for alcohol-related reasons while a number of Highlanders players were also involved in an incident in Queenstown last year.
Further reporting by Stuff this week confirmed that the six Highlanders players were involved in a major party at Ioane’s residence following last weekend’s loss to the Hurricanes, with noise control officers eventually being called to the scene.
The media outlet interviewed Ioane’s neighbours, with many voicing their concern at the number of parties the 25-year-old has hosted over the past 12 months.
Outspoken senior All Black Ardie Savea has now taken to social media to lament the coverage of the incident.
“Yes players got stood down this weekend for team protocols,” Savea said on Twitter. “But it should stop there. All this investigating trying to make them look like there [sic] criminals is just stupid.
“Josh is a great young man I’ve had the honour to play and train with. Yes like all of us, we all need a bit of wisdom in our lives. We all do. but doesn’t excuse this kind of journalism. That’s why players don’t trust journalists cause some ruin it for others.
“Same journos/media companies that promote mental health and well-being are the same ones that continue to over write and bag players through their articles that give public a gateway to hate and write bad things. BE BETTER.”
While a number of fellow players retweeted Savea’s posts, including TJ Perenara and Lima Sopoaga, a number of journalists had a different take on the situation.
Hamish McNeilly, a Fairfax journalist who Savea specifically identified in his tweets, responded that Ioane’s neighbours “needed a voice”.
I took my two kids to last week’s game. They supported their team, even when they lost.
However the actions of the six have not only hurt fans (like them) but more importantly deeply upset Josh’s neighbours who have endured late nights, and lack of sleep.
They deserve a voice.
— hamish mcneilly (@southernscoop) April 1, 2021
He subsequently posted a separate tweet, saying that it was “nice to get a lecture in journalism from professional rugby players”.
Newshub presenter Andrew Gourdie also had little sympathy for the player’s point of view.
Honestly, I’m completely over this apparent idea the media is here to serve athletes.
We’re not here to report funny tweets, amusing TikToks and your latest sponsorship endorsement.
Credit, criticism and analysis is given where and when it’s deserved.
— Andrew Gourdie (@AndrewGourdie) April 2, 2021
Criticism was also levelled at the Highlanders for seemingly trying to somewhat sweep the saga under the carpet.
Ollie Ritchie, also of Newshub, was left frustrated after the Highlanders ignored all forms of contact that Ritchie attempted to make with the organisation regarding the matter.
Six players stood down from the @Highlanders today, and no one from the franchise returned emails, texts, or bothered to pick up the phone once. That’s incredibly poor. Pretending like it didn’t happen doesn’t make it go away.
— Ollie Ritchie (@OllieRitchie1) March 31, 2021
Following the team announcement press conference, the audio package released to media also had coach Brown’s comments on the incident removed.
Add to this they supplied a 2 minute clipped up version of the press conference excluding any mention of the stood down players. This when they usually send out the whole interview. Extremely poor https://t.co/1uusSXqjS5
— John Mckenzie (@Johnmck419) March 31, 2021
It’s been a messy situation all-round and won’t help with the Highlanders’ preparation as they head into a must-win clash with the unbeaten Crusaders on Friday night.
The Highlanders, who have not won a game in almost a month, will likely find the finals a step too far if they can’t quickly turn their fortunes around.
Sources: Sam Smith (@RugbyPass), Stuff, Newshub & Fairfax Media