Furious parents have taken their children out of an Auckland rugby club which has welcomed back a former professional player whose career appeared in tatters after being convicted of performing indecent acts in front of young kids.
Dillan Halaholo has twice been convicted of doing an indecent act in public; in both 2016 and 2017.
The former New Zealand Secondary Schools squad member's first conviction saw his promising career stall, with the hooker having played for Southland and also called into the Highlanders' Super Rugby squad in 2015 as injury cover.
The 26-year-old is now back on the field with Auckland's Suburbs Rugby Football Club, with the Herald on Sunday being told by a club source that at least three parents had withdrawn their children in protest.
A club member – who did not want to be named – said several other parents and club members were appalled that the club had allowed the player another chance to resurrect his career.
After being sentenced in October 2016 to 18 months' supervision after being caught masturbating while parked in a car next to another containing two young girls, he went on to offend again near a west Auckland primary school in March 2017.
He was given a nine-month home-detention sentence for his most recent offending.
"My concern is the club was made aware of his previous convictions yet they brought him in," the member said.
"While under supervision he reoffends again in a car park in Avondale near a primary school. We told the club but they welcomed him back with open arms.
Halaholo – who did not want to comment - reunited with Suburbs in 2017; a club he had previous links to before becoming a professional.
The club has a rich history with players to have worn its jersey and gone on to become All Blacks including Craig Dowd, Mils Muliaina, Eroni Clarke and Steven Bates.
Suburbs' recently appointed chairman, Gary Hyndman, said he was aware of Halaholo's convictions, but stressed he "believes" in him.
"A lot of people in life make mistakes," he said.
"There are players around the country who have been violent, rapists and burglars - but we need to give people a chance to get on with their lives."
But the club source disagreed, saying he had already blown a second chance by reoffending after returning to Auckland in 2017.
"He [already] had the opportunity to make a fresh start in Auckland," he said.
"I made a complaint to the club and sponsors to say he shouldn't be around the juniors. Their response was, 'He's only playing rugby, he deserves a second chance'."
Another parent said his child and friend were "traumatised" by Halaholo's actions.
"There are four victims in the community including my child's friend. My child was upset being interviewed by police and is having a tough time. We are not sure what supervisions have been put in place in the club."
An email written by Suburbs' former chairman Stefan Crooks, which was obtained by the Herald on Sunday, stated that before the club's management committee accepted Halaholo's "application for ongoing membership" it had discussed "the processes necessary to ensure that measures were put in place for his on and off-field activities".
"Club members and friends of the player are working with him to assist in this process and provide a positive but controlled environment," the email read.
In the email, dated April 7, 2017, Crooks wrote "the safety of all club members is of paramount importance".
But he added as a "community-based club it is important that we play a part to assist the rehabilitation of any of its members".
"To do otherwise would be hypocritical and in the club's view be a disservice to club members and their families. It would also be a disservice to our community."
Craig Dowd – who played 60 tests for the All Blacks between 1993-2000 – said as a father he understood that Halaholo had "done some horrible s***".
But he too believed he deserved another chance as long as he was being closely monitored and kept on a "short rein".
"Sports clubs are not just about sports," he said. "They are about looking out for each other in the club.
"I know people at the club are keeping a close eye on him which is what we want. If we isolate him or banish him then he's not getting the help he needs."
Dowd described Halaholo as a "talented" player and believes he made some stupid mistakes when he was left to his "own devices".
"He was away from the community he grew up in and got into trouble. If he did anything now his father would kick his a***," he said.
"He will be very embarrassed about what he's done, but if he's going to continue playing and stay in the community he has to behave or he'll get a slap around the head."
Dowd added: "There are people in the Suburbs I have enormous respect for and I would prefer him to be around the club with smart and wise people who can guide and help him. He just needs to keep his nose clean."