All Blacks enjoy such a God-like status in New Zealand that we often forget that most of them are just ordinary young men with an extraordinary sporting talent.
In fact, if not for their ability on a rugby field, some would even be considered to be something less than ordinary.
Corey Jane and Israel Dagg yesterday highlighted that young men who play for the All Blacks can be just like many young men who don't - immature, irresponsible with an inclination towards risky, anti-social behaviour.
The pair spoke to media yesterday after it was revealed they had mixed sleeping pills and alcohol during a late-night bender just days before the quarter final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
At the time of the incident, it was only made publicly known that the pair had had a night on the booze, incurring the wrath of their fellow players, All Blacks management, and the public.
However, with recent reports that professional rugby and rugby league players mixing alcohol with prescription drugs to get high has become widespread in Australia and New Zealand, the NZRU revealed more details about the incident involving Jane and Dagg three years ago.
High profile professional athletes are held to high standards the world over, and those standards are arguably even higher in rugby-mad New Zealand. With All Blacks idolised like no-one else in this country, though, we tend not to see that many of these young men are at least as vulnerable as their non-famous peers.
Like many young people, they're prone to poor decisions ("Boys are going to boys and just try these things," said Dagg).
Throw in the fact they are household names earning big money, and a touch of hubris, and you have the perfect environment in which a young person can unravel.
Jane and Dagg have humbly admitted they were boneheaded, and profess to have learnt from their mistake.
One can only hope that is indeed the case, as another misjudgment of such magnitude could see that God-like status come crashing back down to earth. Permanently.
ONE MORE THING
It was fantastic to see such strong support for the Festival of Culture on the weekend. Diversity and multiculturalism are terms that get bandied about a lot, often as an idea or concept, not as an action. It was great to see it displayed and celebrated so enthusiastically in our city.
- Manawatu Standard
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