Disparaging social media comments about the Polynesian players and management of the Blues rugby team brought coach Pat Lam to the brink of tears in front of media.
The Blues' poor start to the Super Rugby season - one win in six, and bottom place on the New Zealand conference - has brought on a number of comments on social media sites attributing this to the high number of Maori and Pacific Island players and coaches in the team.
Lam had to stop speaking when asked about the impact of the comments on his parents."They sacrificed themselves for us to come here and have a good life, so it hurts my parents," he said on Thursday, after composing himself."I've seen the hurt that they go through, particularly when it's a racial thing."Lam said he accepted criticism of the team's performance, particularly from people prepared to put their names to comments, but the racial comments were unacceptable."It's the faceless people, and that's social media and so forth and talkback when people say things that are pretty offensive, making out that it's because I'm an Islander, that's just offensive."It's just sad that we live in a country where people have those opinions, and it's only a minority, I know that, but when they have a forum to speak and throw that out everybody jumps on that bandwagon."I feel for them, and I feel for a lot of the guys in the team, you know like (captain) Keven Mealamu and his family, and all the boys who have Island backgrounds or Maori backgrounds."Lam, who coached the Blues team to the Super Rugby playoffs last year, said he and the team were working hard to overcome their poor start."Adversity brings us strength."