Rugby: Manager hoses down Fekitoa speculation

All Blacks midfielder Malakai Fekitoa opened up about his anger issues. Photo / Mark Mitchell
All Blacks midfielder Malakai Fekitoa opened up about his anger issues. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Malakai Fekitoa's manager has moved to clear up some of the speculation around the circumstances that led to the All Black midfielder's public admission this week that he suffers from anger issues.

Fekitoa revealed in an emotional post on Instagram on Wednesday night that he "has a huge problem with anger" both on and off the field.

Bruce Sharrock, who has managed Fekitoa since he was 17, said there is "not one isolated incident" that prompted the 23-year-old's social media post.

"The reality is it is part of a development programme for him, one that self initiated," Sharrock told RadioSport.

"To give a little bit of context around it, earlier that same day of that post he addressed a few of his [Highlanders] teammates and apologised in a similar fashion for the way he reacted on the field and at training at times when the heat gets turned up.

"He just wants to become a better man, and the acknowledgement of it and the apologies is part of the process for him."

Sharrock described the speculation around what may have prompted Fekitoa's post as "sad" and said the youngster had shown great courage in opening up about his struggles. He admits though, while he was aware Fekitoa had sought to improve himself by addressing his anger issues, the Instagram post took him by surprise.

"I didn't know that was the way he was going through the development per se. He obviously was making peace with himself and with others by publicly acknowledging that some of the ways he's reacted in situations on and off the field was not the person he wanted to be," said Sharrock.

"It was never intended to spark the speculation that it has. It's all come from a good place and it's all about a young man wanting to be a better man."

Sharrock said Fekitoa is a deep thinker and very intelligent, but tends to be his own harshest critic at times.

"It's the way he approaches his rugby as well - everything is about getting better. He gets upset and frustrated with himself if it doesn't quite happen the way he wants it to happen. And that's just him being hard on himself and I think that is part of his learning is learning to deal with that a bit better as well."

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