CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AFP) - All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg sparked a torrent of criticism on Sunday after he used a homophobic slur on Twitter.
The rugby union player was hailed as one of the stars of the All Blacks' 30-0 victory over France on Saturday.
But as he revelled in the spotlight, he attracted widespread criticism after he called Auckland Blues player Brendon O'Connor a "fag" on Twitter.
The tweet was eventually deleted but the outrage led Dagg to admit to a "wrong choice of word", saying that he had not meant to cause offence.
Former New Zealand women's rugby player and now opposition MP Louisa Wall said the All Blacks had a responsibility not to use offensive language.
"They fail to recognise the responsibility they have as leaders in New Zealand society, and the influence they have on a whole generation not only of young people, but they represent all New Zealanders now," she told Fairfax News.
A representative of the group Queer Avengers, Sara Fraser, told ZB news of her disgust.
"Really it's just indicative of the fact that although we now have marriage equality and things on the surface appear to be getting better, in actual fact they're not."
New Zealand became the first Asia-Pacific country to legalise same-sex marriage in April in a decision celebrated with parties across the gay community.