Kiwis halfback Shaun Johnson was out of line in having a crack at doubting fans and media in the wake of their embarrassing Rugby League World Cup quarter-final loss to Fiji.

The Warriors playmaker came across as petulant and paranoid when he decided following the 4-2 loss in Wellington to tell us how sections of the public and media have had it in for them all along.

Talk about poor timing. Johnson's comments perhaps would have been better received if the side had played well and bounced back from last week's shock loss to Tonga to make the final four.

But the fact is the Kiwis played poorly and no amount of spin or polish can hide the fact they underperformed with their premature exit the worst result for any Kiwis side in World Cup history.


Bizarrely, coach David Kidwell and captain Adam Blair doubled down on those remarks, wondering out loud why they had been given a tough time in the lead-up to the tournament start and questioning the lack of supporters cheering them on in their first home tests since 2014.

In the wake of their failed campaign and two historic losses to second-tier sides the Kiwis did themselves no favours pointing the finger at their already disillusioned and alienated fan base.

I can understand them being disappointed at the lack of crowd support they enjoyed compared to the likes of Tonga and Samoa, but fans had every right to be sceptical about their tournament hopes after what's been a nightmare past 12 months for the national game.

Belief in Kidwell was already low coming off last year's disastrous Four Nations campaign that saw them return home having lost four tests to Australia and escaping with a draw against Scotland, with a narrow win over England the only positive.

The Warriors diabolical NRL season did little to brighten moods, while the Anzac test loss to the Kangaroos was followed by the cocaine scandal that saw former test captain Jesse Bromwich and back-rower Kevin Proctor banned from the World Cup.

If morale wasn't low enough among supporters, then the defections of four former Kiwis players to Tonga at the eleventh hour understandably had them expecting the worst.

Hopes were raised when the Kiwis began their tournament with encouraging wins over Samoa and Scotland but collective groans resonated around the country when Kidwell tried to convince us that the capitulation to Tonga was a "blessing in disguise" and Blair insisted the loss to Fiji was not a negative.

Hurt Kiwis fans feel further insulted when Kidwell and Blair try to focus on the supposed good work that has been done in improving the team's culture off the field - when all evidence shows they are going backwards on it.


The barbs thrown at the media are also cringe worthy and highlight the fact that players and staff seem consumed with what's been said about them rather than being focused on getting their jobs done.

Respect, trust and support are qualities that are earned and should not be taken for granted, and the Kiwis have done little to build credit in any of those areas.