Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Aaron Smith faces lifetime of shame: PR expert on All Black's toilet tryst

All Black Aaron Smith faces many repercussions for a sexual tryst in a Christchurch Airport disabled toilet. Photo / Brett Phibbs
All Black Aaron Smith faces many repercussions for a sexual tryst in a Christchurch Airport disabled toilet. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Shamed All Black Aaron Smith will likely have to live with the repercussions of his brief sexual liaison in a disabled toilet for the rest of his life, a public relations expert says.

The superstar halfback was stood down from the All Blacks for one test and sent home from South Africa, where the All Blacks were preparing for last weekend's Durban test, after it was revealed he'd had a tryst with a woman in a disabled bathroom at Christchurch Airport.

Smith was dressed in his All Black number ones when he slipped into the bathroom with the woman, who was not his partner, the day after an All Blacks test in Christchurch last month.

A witness said the pair used the bathroom for five to 10 minutes and there was no question of what they were doing.

Smith apologised and still faces a disciplinary hearing this week. But the encounter provoked international media attention, with media from Britain to Australia to the United States publicising the rugby player's indiscretion.

'He'd have to save half a dozen drowning people at the beach'

Veteran Auckland public relations consultant Cedric Allan said there was little chance Smith would ever shake the infamy.

It would cost him financially, in lost potential endorsement deals, and emotionally.

"It's up to the All Blacks management whether this affects his future playing career. [But] he will always be known as the All Black who did this, just like older people know [former All Black] Keith Murdoch was sent home from the [1972] tour for punching someone.

"That's the thing with reputation - it can take a lifetime to build and less than a second to destroy."

It was possible redemption could come, but it would take a long time.

A quicker journey might be to distinguish himself in another career, or do something so amazing it eclipsed his previous behaviour, Allan said.

"He'd have to save half a dozen drowning people at the beach ... he is going to pay a horrendous price for this, way out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence."

- NZ Herald

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