All Blacks star Aaron Smith has offered a tearful apology after a couple heard him having sex in a disabled bathroom with a female friend.
Smith has been suspended by the All Blacks for this weekend’s Test in South Africa and has flown home to New Zealand.
‘I’ve made a huge mistake, a huge error in judgement,’ a visibly shaken Smith said.
‘I’d personally like to say a huge sorry to my partner Teagan, her family, my family… also sorry to my team-mates and the New Zealand fans.
‘My behaviour is unacceptable and if you could respect me and my partner in this situation…
‘I’m just trying to get home to deal with this. Thank you.’
The couple told stuff.co.nz they heard ‘rhythmic tapping noises’ coming from a cubicle in Christchurch airport as they stood outside after seeing him and the woman entering within 30 seconds of each other.
One of the witnesses said their young son did not know what was happening but it was ‘obvious’ what was unfolding.
They said the pair were inside the bathroom for about 10 minutes before Smith emerged adjusting his clothing and the woman followed about 30 seconds later.
The couple also caught Smith and the woman on camera after they carried out their bathroom rendezvous, which happened last month.
The All Blacks star, who was wearing his team suit, rejoined his team and met fans who had gathered around the players.
Smith, 27, is dating 22-year-old Teagan Voykovich and the couple said the woman seen with him at the airport was not his girlfriend.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has weighed in on the bathroom tryst and said Smith’s actions were not what society expected of a role model.
‘I suspect he’ll be sitting back, reflecting on the fact he’s let himself down, he’s let the team down, he’s an integral part of the All Blacks so he won’t want to be sitting on the sidelines, and frankly, he’s embarrassed himself a bit,’ Mr Key told stuff.co.nz.
‘They do a lot to try and prove to young New Zealanders that they’re the sort of people to look up to – that’s why I think Aaron will feel pretty disappointed in himself.’
Smith has since been suspended for one Test after ‘breaching team standards regarding behaviour’, New Zealand coach Steven Hansen said.
Hansen confirmed on Wednesday the 27-year-old scrum-half had been seen entering a toilet cubicle with a female friend at Christchurch Airport the day after New Zealand’s 41-13 win over South Africa at the AMI Stadium.
As a result Smith has not been considered for selection for this weekend’s Rugby Championship Test in Durban.
The All Blacks head coach revealed he learned of the incident on their arrival in South Africa ahead of their final Rugby Championship match against the Springboks.
‘On the Sunday in Christchurch after the South African Test at the Christchurch Airport, Aaron and a female friend were seen by members of the public to enter the disabled toilets,’ Hansen said at a press conference.
‘On our arrival to South Africa we were informed of this.
‘I had a conversation with Aaron on Tuesday and he confirmed the story.
‘As a result of that the leadership group met and were unanimous in the fact that behaviour wasn’t acceptable and as a consequence a one-match suspension would be put in place.
‘Clearly Aaron is bitterly disappointed with his behaviour and feels he has let the team down but just as importantly feels he is bitterly disappointed in letting his family and partner down.
‘At his request he has asked to go home to deal with the personal matters that have come with this incident and we have been only too happy to support him in that.’