Call the fun police - an All Black was caught drinking and fagging a few days before a test match.

Reaction to last week's Herald on Sunday exclusive - that winger Cory Jane was boozed in a North Shore pub about 72 hours out from New Zealand's quarterfinal clash with Argentina - polarised readers.

Many said it was another example of arrogant players out of control - but just as many called our reportage sleaze befitting an English redtop. A few even suggested we were out to nobble the All Blacks. But injuries are doing that quite nicely, without our help.

Jane's mea culpa on Monday in the wake of a standout performance in the game against Argentina took care of some of the gripes - despite his wife Aimee Jane's denials, it is clear the player compromised his physical fitness ahead of one of the biggest weekends of his life.


But why should we care? So what if someone has a few pints in their own time? Why should Jane, Israel Dagg - anyone in fact - be pilloried for drinking a legal substance if they're not badly misbehaving (and there was no suggestion of that)? Okay, smoking in bars is now illegal but what Jane did was hardly the crime of the century.

For the reason we should care, consider the sellout at Eden Park tonight, when the All Blacks take on Australia for a place in the final.

Spectators are shelling out hundreds of dollars for each ticket and expect to see specimens in top condition. The players owe that to viewers - they're the reason All Blacks have wads of $50 notes to wave around in bars, as Jane did.

Most importantly it should have been about personal pride and team responsibility. It's 24 years since we last won the World Cup. Jane knows the burden of expectation and the gold fish bowl he is in.

He has the chance to be a national hero, something many people would sacrifice plenty for.

Forget any role-model claptrap. This was simply about doing the right thing for yourself and your country.