We often complain in our industry that the All Blacks' tightly managed media sessions leave little room for the players to show their personality. Thank heavens then for social media.
Just this week Cory Jane gave us a glimpse into his marital relations by revealing his "wifey" knocked back his amorous advances after getting him all hot and steamy by trying on dresses in front of him, accompanied by the hashtag #EgoTookAHit. That was a serious #overshare.
Then yesterday a whole new side to Aaron Smith was revealed, with the halfback showing his talent for, ahem, ball distribution. It seems he has been taking fan engagement to a whole new level by sending naked snapchats to one of his lady friends. But they unfortunately found their way further afield after their initial recipient posted them on Facebook when things reportedly turned sour.
Some will find the pictures to be in poor taste. I, for one, thought the composition was askew and he possibly should have considered using a filter to counteract the harsh bathroom lighting. But that is by the by. Smith obviously wasn't expecting these pictures of his pubic domain to find their way into the public domain because never before in the history of the internet has it occurred that a celebrity or well-known public figure has had revealing images of themselves leaked online.
The incident will have the New Zealand Rugby Union scrambling to remind players of the rules and guidelines around the use of social media. It might also force them to update the protocols to include helpful advice around taking naked selfies. For example, "when taking dick-pics do not include your face or any recognisable body markings in the photo so you cannot be readily identified if these pictures find their way into the public domain". The NZRU take pride in being a progressive organisation, after all.
It will be of little comfort to Smith at present, but all he's really done is embarrass himself, not damage his brand. In most people's eyes he'll be seen as the victim of a vindictive ex. He'll also be seen as yet another case study in the pitfalls of sports stars using social media.