Kiwis keep it low-key for prop Sam Kasiano
Sam Kasiano may need to face the music after his allegedly lewd contribution to the Bulldogs' highly-publicised Grand Final after match, but his new Kiwis team-mates are determined the build-up to his test debut against the Kangaroos will be as low-key as possible.
The giant front rower faces possible sanctions from the premiership runners-up for his role in a traditional "Mad Monday" bonding session which ended with accusations an Australian television reporter was abused by players and staff assembled at their Sydney training base the morning after they were beaten by the Melbourne Storm.
Once he confirmed his eligibility for New Zealand after rejecting overtures from Queensland, the 22-year-old Aucklander has been shielded by Kiwis management and personnel since the team assembled in Cairns for Saturday's one-off trans-Tasman test at Townsville's Dairy Farmer Stadium.
He was the only one of three debutants not to reflect on his selection when the 17-man squad was confirmed on Tuesday, and the New Zealand Rugby League's protection of a prized asset intensified yesterday when Australian media identified Kasiano as one of the players who used inappropriate language within earshot of a female journalist from Channel Nine 10 days ago.
Kasiano reportedly sang "I want to punch you in the face" an alternative version of a tune associated with the children's television character Barney.
The club insists the usually shy Kasiano was directing the verse to centre Josh Morris, who was dressed as the purple dinosaur.
Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg, who agreed to pay $A30,000 to charity in light of the club's unsatisfactory handling of the affair, has not revealed which players or staff were responsible but vowed a hard line would be taken as an internal review continues. Fines were one possibility.
"People need to be assured that we are taking this very seriously," he told The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
"We will review the entire operations around the post-grand final and our Monday. We thought we had a pretty good plan for 2012, but obviously we didn't get it all right. We need to make sure we learn from this experience, and make sure we get it right in the future.''
Kiwis football manager Tony Kemp defended the lack of media access to Kasiano prior to and after the Bulldogs saga emerged.
"He's the shyest bloke you'll ever meet, we can't get boo out of him ourselves, we'd put him up and he wouldn't say anything."
Kemp said Kasiano had requested to remain off limits in order to focus on the start of what is potentially a long international career.
Suggestions Kasiano was complicit when the Bulldogs otherwise successful season ended in controversy were not an issue for he Kiwis, according to Kemp.
"It's speculation. I take it with a pinch of salt," he said.
"What Dessie's (coach Des Hasler) and the CEO's done (in 2012) for that club .... that to me is a real positive. You have your little hiccups.
"We haven't even mentioned it. We're not here for the Bulldogs, we're here to win a test match on Saturday night."