Sir John Kirwan as a Father figure and voice of reason
April 25, 2013, 02:55:09
Talented Blues midfielder Francis Saili has become the latest New Zealand professional rugby player to face the courts as a result of his actions away from the game.
As rugby deals with the fallout from All Black Julian Savea's domestic assault charge, the Blues today revealed they have instituted disciplinary procedures on the 22-year-old Saili who is due to appear in court in Auckland tomorrow on charges relating to driving while his license was suspended.
Savea's situation has seen the New Zealand Rugby Union call for an independent review on the way it helps its young players cope with the pressures of the professional game.
Saili's case at the Blues is not as serious, but coach John Kirwan told media after the team's training session in Auckland today that it was situation the young man had to learn from.
Saili, who is being tipped as a potential All Black of the future, will not be considered to start Friday night's top-of-the-table clash against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane and also faces other disciplinary procedures under Blues and NZRU protocols.
The second-year Blues utility back had apologised to his team-mates over the incident which took place last week while the team had a bye.
“He's just a young man who did a silly thing,” said Kirwan. “He was disqualified from driving because of speeding tickets, and he got caught driving the other day. He late for an appointment and made a dumb choice.
“We're not playing him in the starting XV for his punishment, and there's NZRU protocols taking place.
“Each team needs to have its protocols, and we set ours up at the beginning of the season. He's copped it and moved on. These are young guys and we need to take responsibility in trying to help them.”
Kirwan agreed with the assessment from his bosses at the NZRU that rugby had to take a hard look at its role in helping its young professionals make better decisions.
“I think rugby has a responsibility to help young men be better people. We need to try to teach them to make better choices. I don't know the Julian situation, [but] he's obviously cut up about it and we need to try to help him through this.
“We can't condone anything where we think its bringing the game or anything into disrepute, so it needs to be dealt with properly.
“The first responsibility is parental -- it starts at home -- and then when we get young men into a situation like this the franchise needs to take responsibility to try to help them as much as we can.
“They've also got their own private lives, so we just need to have good protocols, try to get them the learnings they need, stay close and try to help.”
But Kirwan also felt this was not a specific rugby problem.
“Rugby players are just a highlighted reflection on society,” said the former All Black great. “We just need to keep addressing issues, alcohol issues, violence issues, and we need to be advocates of the good side of things.
“But it is a reflection of society that we shouldn't accept. No, we can't be the answer but we need to try guide young men to make better decisions.”
Veteran Blues and All Black hooker Keven Mealamu said it was important to support young players who were making bad life decisions.
“We've got to try to get them back to doing the right things,” he said today. “It's bad decisions, but they are good guys, and bad decisions are really costing them.
“They know they've let themselves down, and their families and their franchises. We want to make sure we give them support so they can bounce back and really look after the people they care about.”
Savea was remanded on bail after his court hearing in Wellington today, and is due to reappear next month.
The Hurricanes knew about his impending court appearance last week but started him against the Western Force on Friday night and have given no indication thus far he will miss any games.
Fairfax NZ News