Silver Ferns sharp-shooter Cathrine Tuivaiti says New Zealand sports people will be forced to become "vanilla" in the face of growing online trolling and abuse.
Tuivaiti, nee Latu, has spoken out about the hammering some of our top athletes are receiving via social media after winger Manu Vatuvei went public about abuse he received, and subsequent schoolyard bullying aimed at his daughters, after being caught up in the Warriors' energy drinks and prescription pills scandal.
Vatuvei is now steering clear of social media after trolls launched personal attacks.
In an interview with Tony Veitch to be aired on Newstalk ZB today, Tuivaiti said the way Vatuvei had been publicly "ripped down to pieces" had been "just horrible".
"He's put Kiwi league on the map, he's made New Zealand stand out for many years," Tuivaiti said.
"He's done so much for this country and for us all to get on his back just because he made some wrong decisions and got caught doing it, who are we to judge him like that? We need to check our own back yards."
She said the level of scrutiny placed on sports people these days had become "ridiculous".
"I think we're going to force everyone in the country who is in the public eye - I'm talking sports people - to just go vanilla and be the most boring people you've ever met. We have flavour here .... it's part of us and we just need to embrace it and actually love it because it's what sets us apart from the rest of the world."
Tuivaiti praised the way Vatuvei had faced up to the controversy circling him in recent weeks.
"I loved the way he came across and I loved that he didn't pull out the world's smallest violin and start telling us to feel sorry for him."
Vatuvei's future at the Warriors had been under a cloud after he was dropped to reserve grade and stood down from Kiwis test selection for his involvement in the prescription pills and energy drinks scandal.