Shaun Johnson says the toll on his family and friends from social media criticism is reaching a tipping point.
The Kiwis halfback said on Wednesday that his mother Say had contacted him in tears, after reading some of the recent negative online posts about her son.
In the wake of the Kiwis shock 4-2 defeat at the hands of Fiji last Saturday, the New Zealand halfback rounded on the media and fans for a lack of faith before and during the tournament.
"The most disappointing thing for me is that everyone who doubted us — the fans, media — yous [sic] got your way," Johnson said after Saturday's defeat at Westpac Stadium.
His reaction, along with similar thoughts from coach David Kidwell and captain Adam Blair, attracted a stinging rebuke from the league fraternity.
On Tuesday, Johnson retracted those comments in a Facebook post, taking full responsibility for his performances during the tournament, but admitted that the last few days had been the toughest period of his career.
"It's sad that people think they can alter the way I live my life, just because I am not performing on a league field," Johnson told Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch.
"They don't have to live with that, I have to live with that, and I have to live with that for the whole summer now.
"None of us got trained to be in this position. Our supporters in New Zealand can be so passionate or can be ruthless sometimes.
"People can say 'suck it up' all they like but they are not the kind of people that experience what we experience. It's been the toughest period of my career."
The 27-year-old is no stranger to online criticism, but the severity of some comments over the last few days have surprised even him.
There were more than 1,700 comments on Johnson's Facebook post overnight, and while the vast majority have been positive some have scraped the bottom of the barrel in terms of personal abuse, with Johnson saying one poster had told him to shoot himself.
"It doesn't actually affect me, to be completely honest," said Johnson.
"I don't like seeing it — nobody would like seeing it — but what hurts me the most is that my mum sees it, my brothers see it and my girlfriend [Silver Ferns star Kayla Cullen] sees it.
"People that I really care about and I know it really affects see it. My mum texted me this morning saying she was crying when she saw some of the stuff that people wrote to me.
"That's what breaks me, that's what I feel most embarrassed about; that she has to see some of that stuff and that is what affects me. I don't know if it is warranted or not but she still has to see it."
Johnson, who has spoken out about cyberbullying in the past, especially during some difficult times at the Warriors, isn't sure how to stop online trolls but admits that a solution has to be found.
"Something has to be done but I am not really sure what can be done," said Johnson.
"It can't be accepted and it can't go on."
But he also reiterated his apologies to the New Zealand league fraternity for comments he says were made in the heat of the moment after the match.
"I've felt the people reaching out, people that have shown their love and support, and they are the people I want to put my energy towards," said Johnson.
"I want to apologise to them because they are the people I feel like I have truly let down, not the ones that hate on me regardless.
"I've let the people down that truly believe in me and think I am a good person. I can't change what happened on the field — I'm going to have to live with that all summer."
* Listen to the full interview on Newstalk ZB on Saturday.
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