All Blacks first-five Lima Sopoaga has apologised for a homophobic comment made through social media.
After Highlanders and national team-mate Malakai Fekitoa posted a photo of himself being kissed by other players, Sopoaga responded: "hah gayyyyyyyyyyye".
The comment triggered a wave of outrage, including Jeremy Brankin, captain of the New Zealand Falcons gay rugby team, who condemned Sopoaga's attitude in a column for Radio New Zealand.
"The All Blacks prove themselves time and again on the field," said Brankin. "It is time these players showed respect and responsibility off the field as well?"
Sopoaga deleted his commented and duly apologised.
"Sorry to anyone who took offence to my comment above. I'm not homophobic but understand how my comment may have been interpreted that way. Chur have a nice day"
Last year, New Zealand Rugby led a group national sporting organisations that pledged to promote diversity and inclusion within their codes.
But then, Chiefs player Michael Allardice had to apologise for homophobic slurs during an end-of-season function at a pool complex.
NZ Rugby general manager for rugby Neil Sorensen told Radio NZ: "We have an expectation that all people involved in the professional game are playing their part to ensure that rugby is inclusive and respectful of all people.
"We will be initiating a formal employment process to discuss this post with [Sopoaga]."