Robin Brooke was set to become All Black captain until he was accused of having sex with a drunk teenage girl.
Several senior rugby sources said Brooke was in line to be named skipper after the disastrous 1998 season, in which the All Blacks lost five test matches in a row.
The incumbent, Taine Randell, had decided to stand down after talking to coach John Hart at the end of the season.
Brooke - a senior lock who was the Auckland Blues' captain and had the support of other experienced All Blacks - was the frontrunner to take over from Randell after the 1999 Super 12 competition.
"It wasn't definite, but that's the way [the All Black selectors] were leaning," one former All Black told the Herald.
The claim that Brooke was to take over from Randell was made by rugby journalist Phil Gifford on a television panel. And in an interview with the New Zealand Rugby Monthly soon after, Randell said Hart had told him Brooke would replace him. But at the last minute, almost all of the article was physically cut from 27,000 copies of the magazine after it went to print.
Extracts from one leaked uncut copy were broadcast on RadioSport.
In it, Randell said: "Robin won't be successful unless we all rally behind him. It doesn't matter what the public think. Some people might think I've been shafted. But I don't think anyone should feel sorry for me."
At the time, Hart said that "at no stage" did the selectors confirm a new captain. Yesterday, he did not return phone calls.
But TVNZ's Close Up last night reported that Brooke lost his chance to be captain after he allegedly had sex with a drunk and "comatose" teenage girl 12 years ago.
The current affairs show earlier said the alleged incident took place in 1998 - a year after the girl first met Brooke in July 1997 and they had consensual sex. She was 17 at the time. He was 30 and had been married for eight months.
Before the alleged 1998 incident, the teenager and a friend had been drinking heavily with Brooke at a bar. They all went home together.
The friend alleges she woke to find Brooke having sex with the "comatose" teenager in the same bed and told him to stop.
A male flatmate of the pair told Close Up that he also went into the room and threatened Brooke that he would call the police unless he stopped. The flatmate - a relative of an All Black captain - said that one year later, he heard serious speculation that Brooke was to replace Randell. He wrote to the New Zealand Rugby Union threatening to go public if Brooke was appointed.
"I put in the letter that my [relative] was an All Black captain. I didn't really like the idea of having All Blacks captains' names tarnished by the likes of Robin Brooke in their ranks," the flatmate told Close Up.
"I just let it be known to them that I knew what had happened. I think I suggested in the letter that I would look at going to another forum if they didn't address the problem."
The man said he received a phone call a few days later assuring him that Brooke would not be captain.
NZRU spokesman Brian Finn said yesterday that no one could comment on the captaincy claim as there were no current management who had been working for the union at the time.
After the alleged 1998 incident, All Blacks manager Mike Banks investigated a claim made by the two women and Brooke faced disciplinary action. It is not known what action was taken.
The allegations follow revelations that Brooke groped a 15-year-old Auckland girl at a Fijian resort on New Year's Eve and assaulted her 17-year-old friend when he went to her aid.
In February, Brooke publicly apologised to the families involved, and to the New Zealand public, for his actions. He also paid a financial settlement to the families.
Brooke was unable to be reached for comment yesterday, and none of the Brooke family were at their home in Pyes Pa, near Tauranga.
Brooke is believed to be selling the New World supermarket he has owned for four years in Tauranga to buy a bigger branch in Warkworth.
New World's parent company, Foodstuffs, said yesterday in a statement: "In the last 24 hours, allegations have been made in the media regarding Robin Brooke.
"As a first step, Foodstuffs needs to speak to Mr Brooke; this is something we will be doing at the earliest opportunity."
 - NZ Herald