The seemingly routine naming of a fresh Māori All Blacks rugby squad has sparked online-outcry as one news report attracted offensive comments when it was shared to social media.
On Wednesday Māori All Blacks head coach Clayton MacMillan named a strong side featuring two capped All Blacks and eight debutants to face off against Moana Pasifika in their historic clash at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on Saturday night.
An innocuous news report by RugbyPass was then shared by its editors to its Facebook page where one comment in particular drew the ire of other rugby fans.
"Imagine if England proposed fielding a team, solely of white, native, indigenous Englishmen," one user, listed as New York resident Phil Anthony, commented before facing an immediate backlash.
While other users contributed to the fallout, Wellingtonian Maika Bennett decided to deliver a stunning and scathing rebuttal to what may have originally seemed like an off-the-cuff reaction when shared by Anthony.
"Imagine if 250 years ago Māori had travelled to Britain, decided to claim it, through force, as their own. Then imagine Māori decided to ship boat loads of Māori into Britain to take up residence on the land of British people.
"Then imagine they signed an agreement with the indigenous people of Britain which they then went on to completely ignore for decades. Then imagine Māori wanted more land but the British people resisted so Māori used their superior firepower to claim more land that didn't belong to them.
"Then imagine Māori installed a government system in Britain that followed the customs and traditions of Māori and was statistically shown to benefit Māori to a higher level than British citizens in areas such as health and education. And imagine if despite knowing that, Māori decided to do nothing to improve it, but instead put it down to Māori superiority.
"Then imagine if, after putting British through all that for 250 years, the indigenous British people wanted to have a rugby team to celebrate their culture – but a bunch of Polynesian people went online to suggest it was 'racist'."
Over 100 comments, overwhelming in support of Bennett, have since flooded the post while Anthony has remained silent in response.
One user, commenting as Awhi Tawa, summed up the mood of the situation by replying with "this comment wins the internet for the year".
Meanwhile on Twitter, Bennett's repost of the Facebook thread attracted 36,000 likes and fierce debate over the course of hundreds of comments.
The Māori All Blacks, playing under varying names, have been an official part of international rugby union since 1910.