Former All Blacks wing Julian Savea has said he is "shocked", "disturbed" and "ashamed" at the personal criticism on social media aimed at under-pressure All Blacks head coach Ian Foster.
Savea also made reference to the toll that mental health issues takes on New Zealand men when mounting a defence of Foster, who has overseen three recent defeats by the All Blacks and faces a huge challenge getting his team up for the second Test against South Africa in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Hurricanes and former All Black teammate TJ Perenara supported Savea's tweet with a tick emoji, with Ngani Laumape, a former Hurricane and All Black, also supporting it with a "100 emoji". Black Ferns sevens skipper Sarah Hirini also gave her support.
Savea is back playing in New Zealand after a stint at French club Toulouse, where he admitted he struggled at times to deal with negative comments from supporters and indeed the club's former president Mourad Boudjellal, who was outspoken in his criticism of Savea.
In one interview, Boudjellal joked that he was "going to ask for a DNA test" because he felt Savea's form for the club didn't match his exploits for the All Blacks.
In 2021, Savea's wife Fatima hit back at the negative comments on social media.
"With rugby you are only as good as your team is. It's not an individual sport it's a team sport and sometimes you can be let down by your team," she said.
The All Blacks have lost five of their last six Tests, including an historic series defeat to Ireland, and have slumped to No.5 on the world rankings.