Star All Blacks issue public support for Samoa players
ESPN Staff
November 21, 2014

A number of New Zealand All Blacks players have offered support for their Samoa peers who are locked in a feud with the Samoan Rugby Union.

Samoa players threatened to boycott their Test against England at Twickenham, in order to leverage a meeting with its union, but the union chairman Tuilaepa Sailele, Samoa's Prime Minister, labelled them "trouble makers" who put money before country. He called the players "little brats" who were guilty of "foolish thinking".

Samoa prop Census Johnston revealed subsequently that the squad agreed to call off their boycott only after receiving threats regarding both their place at the 2015 Rugby World Cup and New Zealand's historic visit to Apia next year, saying the strike was cancelled to safeguard crucial future opportunities for the country's rugby-focused economy and public.

But now they have been offered high-profile support, with a number of high profile All Blacks posting a picture on Instagram of a group of team-mates surrounding a sign which reads "#SamoaUnited".

Sonny Bill Williams was first to tweet the picture, followed by Keven Mealamu and Jerome Kaino. The photo was also re-tweeted by Victor Vito.

Kaino is close with several of the Samoa players, and he said the issues that concern them haven't just emerged on this tour this month.

"It's been boiling for a while," Kaino said. "The group of players they've got have been in there for a while and I think they've just had enough. They've made it known that they're quite frustrated. I'm a proud Samoan. It's a bunch of brothers showing their support to the brothers in the Samoan team."

Kaino was pleased the photo had generated interest, and he said that he hoped the issues raised would be addressed. "It's really important. They've got a lot of talent and potential in their team and if they can get all the bases covered, then I'm sure that would flow on to their performances on the field," he said. If they're happy, then we'll be happy."

Kaino said the New Zealand players didn't feel the need to clear their Twitter posting with New Zealand Rugby or All Blacks management, and New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew had "no issue" with the post as the players posed in New Zealand outfit hence they were photographed as individuals not All Blacks. "This is simply players supporting other players and we have no issue with them doing this as individuals and not All Blacks," Tew said. "This situation is one between the Samoan players and their union and not one for New Zealand Rugby to express an opinion about. We continue to look forward to playing Samoa in Apia next year."

Players staying United for Manu Samoa and a positive outcome for the future of Samoan Rugby #SamoaUnited @TheIRPA

A photo posted by Jerome Kaino (@jeromekaino) on

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