In the murky world of social media influencing, where it's still mostly a guessing game about whether a person really does love the product they are pushing — eyes have turned to the partners of the stars of our nation's favourite pastime — rugby.
Last month, Instagram photos showing All Blacks Beauden Barrett, 27, and Damian McKenzie, 23, pouring Champagne at the January ASB Classic, were found to be in breach of alcohol advertising rules. Alcohol Healthwatch executive director Nicki Jackson complained that the posted photos advertised and promoted in non-restricted areas and should not use or refer to identifiable heroes or heroines of the young.
Earlier this year 28-year-old Julian Savea was the target of a series of harsh criticisms by Mourad Boudjellal, the president of the Toulon Rugby Union club with which Julian has a lucrative contract.
After some vicious posts from Toulon fans, wife Fatima came to her husband's defence, saying she was "absolutely disgusted by this sh*t" on Twitter. "Take a minute to think about how your words can affect someone's life and their mental health," she wrote.
Before arriving back in Toulon, Fatima also shared on Twitter she was scared for her safety on her return, after threatening social media messages.
Both Fatima and Barrett's wife Hannah have prominent Instagram profiles; part and parcel of the relationships with their famous partners.
Moet & Chandon Champagne featured heavily in the lead up to the January wedding of Barrett, who's a "friend of the brand".
Hannah, an accountant, has become an influencer who does her new-found gig with style.
Like most influencers, she opens parcels couriered to her, photographs and posts online with tags to acknowledge the brand, and we understand her husband is proud of her finesse. Lately the young influencer has graduated into MCing events. During their honeymoon to Dubai, The Maldives and Sri Lanka, Hannah updated followers on their every move.
With nearly 54,000 followers, she has her Instagram stories packaged nicely under titles like Fitness, Travel, Fashion, Wedding, Hens and Honeymoon. Although her husband recently had to remove his Moet post from the tennis, Hannah is still able to have slides of the Champagne house in her engagement and wedding stories.
Fatima is an influencer on the move. She recently did a junket to Singapore with their tourism board with fashion influencer and Married at First Sight NZ cast member Samuel Levi before reuniting with Julian in Toulon.
With nearly 38,000 Instagram followers, she is represented for social media by talent agency Johnson and Laird Management. The quandary is this — unlike Hannah who shows positivity and light with her posts and her support for her husband's successes — Fatima has found herself having to call people out, in defence of her husband. Admirable enough, but the question will be whether brands want to align in future with posts and tweets that make international headlines.
It's a hard balance to find these days as an influencer, let alone as a sporting star's significant other "influencer".
Former Blackstick Gemma McCaw may be a great place for all partners of sports' stars to start.
She had a huge public profile due to her own sporting brilliance well before marrying former All Black captain Richie McCaw; but getting married to the rugby hero undoubtedly helped her increase her social media followers to more than 90,000.
The mother-of-one knows how to keep her brand real and she is very clear about who she works with. She told Spy last year that she doesn't get it right all the time, having had backlash from some less-kind followers for perceived "selling out" by announcing her pregnancy, posting a pic of pairs of his and hers and baby Adidas sneakers.
Gemma picked the picture as it represented the couple perfectly; and it was just as cute as PM Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford's fishing-hook baby news' announcement.
It's still the wild west on the social media scene and as guidelines and standards toughen up, it will be interesting to see how sporting stars and their partners from all codes calibrate in the future.