Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Jane, Dagg's All Black booze binge

Did you see the All Black stars out boozing?
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Cory Jane at the captain's run. Photo / Getty Images
Cory Jane at the captain's run. Photo / Getty Images

All Blacks star Cory Jane went on a drinking binge and lit up a cigarette inside a packed Auckland bar - less than 72 hours before playing in today's Rugby World Cup quarter-final.

He and injured teammate Israel Dagg were at the Mac's Brewbar in Takapuna on Thursday.

Stunned bar patrons have told how the two backline stars appeared to be swaying and slurring their words.

Witnesses said Jane lit a cigarette in the bar - breaking the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 banning smoking in pubs, in force since 2004.

When police showed up for a regulation check, bar staff "hid" the players in the bar's kitchen.

Married father-of-three Jane reportedly waved a wad of $50 notes at the bar, offering to buy patrons a drink. He also allegedly ventured behind the bar and acted like he was going to pour himself a drink.

A furious All Black manager Darren Shand said last night: "They are the ones who are going to face the consequences now because they are going to be known - particularly across the country - as the guys who let the team down."

Shand said the injuries which have hit the All Blacks' outside backs made the behaviour even harder to fathom.

"That's what's most disappointing. That guys would do that in a week that we are affected by injury.

"It's not what we expect in this team, particularly not in players who are playing this week.

"This is it for us, do or die. Lose and we're out."

Two patrons who spoke with the Herald on Sunday, a 33-year-old recruitment consultant and a 31-year-old sales rep who did not want to be named, said the All Black pair entered Mac's Brewbar about 10.45pm.

"Israel Dagg came over to talk to us but was definitely worse for wear," said one source. "He wasn't very steady on his feet, his speech was slightly slurred and he was wavering a little.

"It wasn't as if he was about to fall over but there was no doubt he was (affected).

"I asked him where they had been that night; he looked blankly at me for a second before laughing and saying 'I've got no idea'.

"He didn't have a clue where they had been that night."

Soon after the duo arrived, Jane was seen smoking a cigarette by the bar.

"It was in the middle of the bar - you could see all the smoke around him. I remember thinking 'what's he doing? That's been illegal for years'.

"People were surprised but not doing anything before a staff member walked over and grabbed it off him."

Later in the night a group of six police came to inspect the bar, a customary practice on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in Takapuna.

As the police were talking to the bouncers outside, someone apparently alerted the bar staff inside.

As the police made their way through the outdoor courtyard into the main indoor bar area, a senior member of staff came out from behind the bar and talked to Dagg and Jane before quickly shepherding them back behind the bar and through a staff side door into the kitchen, moments before the police entered the main bar.

"It was clear that someone spotted the cops," said the witness.

"A senior staff member came out, said something quickly and motioned for them to follow. They were hiding them in the kitchen."

A short time later, while the police were still in the bar, Jane re-emerged. He came out and walked behind the bar, before appearing to try to serve himself a drink. A staff member noticed and ushered the All Black winger back into the kitchen.

The players were ushered out of the bar's back entrance and refused entry at a nearby pub, The Elephant Wrestler.

It is not known whether they were turned away for their casual dress - both wore Jandals and Jane was in a hoodie and shorts - or whether it was over their alcohol consumption.

Soon afterwards - about 12.30am - they reappeared in Mac's bar.

The booze-fuelled night out ended about 1am when All Black halfback Piri Weepu arrived and appeared to order the players back to the team hotel, Spencer on Byron, a few blocks away.

Shand said the team had dealt with it internally and the players had been disciplined according to team protocols.

"We don't have any policy on smoking or drinking, we just expect them to make good decisions. Clearly there is enough evidence out there from both sides to say they have let themselves down. Cory had better play a blinder."

A top sports medical expert said drinking alcohol so close to a test match could reduce the player's performance and increase the risk of injury.

At 7.26am the next day, 28-test veteran Jane was named to start on the right wing in the most important rugby match of his life.

Dagg was ruled out after a recurrence of a leg injury, exacerbating the injury crisis among the All Blacks' outside back division.

Richard Kahui and Zac Guildford are also on the injured list.

Former Warriors and Kiwis doctor Chris Hanna said: "If you are binge drinking and you become dehydrated you are not going to play as well as you would have been able to in a test match. "We are talking about tiny percentages when it comes to beating the opposition at this level.

"Your ability is going to be reduced. It's just not sensible."

He said players could also have impaired judgment, dehydration and reduced ability to recover after training.

"If you consume alcohol in the first few hours after intense exercise, what you are doing is reducing your ability to replenish your muscles.

"I would never encourage binge drinking. However, it is important that the All Blacks keep doing what they have done to get this far."

Hanna said a single cigarette would reduce a player's lung capacity but it would also introduce carbon monoxide and nicotine to the player's blood.

Aimee Jane denied her husband was out drinking and said she was aware of her husband's whereabouts at all times.

She added: "At the moment it is the most exciting time of our lives. There are huge pressures."

Last month Guildford admitted he had an alcohol problem after several binge drinking episodes while on tour with the All Blacks.

He broke an agreement to moderate his drinking after a poor performance in the Tri Nations' defeat to Australia in Brisbane.

Earlier on Thursday, the entire squad had eaten at The Long Room in Ponsonby.

Co-owner Richard Bagnall said the team had eaten a steak and salad set menu and did not drink alcohol.

Former All Black captain Sir Wilson Whineray was more forgiving than Shand.

He said the players couldn't be sheltered away for the entire tournament.

"Thursday is a day or two from Saturday," Sir Wilson said. "They all want to play in the top team, they know that being out late, missing sleep, is unhelpful.

"They are mature people and if they are in at a responsible hour and get a good night's sleep they will train well the next day. They are very anxious to remain in the run-on team."

- Herald on Sunday

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