Chiefs lock Michael Allardice has admitted making an anti-gay slur at the team's post-season party.
Chiefs CEO Andrew Flexman said Allardice had apologised to Brendan Barraclough, who was also at the Okoroire hot pools, near Matamata.
Barraclough, who was with two friends, alleged a player yelled, 'Here come the gays, here come the gays'.
Those words were followed by a further sexual reference, Barraclough alleged.
'It's an awful thing to hear. I was going to ignore it, but what if it were someone else who heard it,' he said. 'I'm older, I can handle it. What if it were a young guy who couldn't, and went home and topped himself?'
Allardice said in a statement that the comments had not been directed at Barraclough, but apologised nonetheless.
'When I learned of Brendan’s Facebook post and comments to media, I realised he was referring to the comments I had directed at my teammate. I was not aware he was there, or that he had mistaken these comments as being directed at him. They were not.
'I have today contacted Brendan and apologised for the offence caused by my inappropriate comments, regardless of who they were directed at. I have expressed to Brendan that I have taken full responsibility for my actions, but I have also assured him that there was no malicious intent in my comments – I wasn’t yelling at a stranger to inflict hurt.
'I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed of the hurt I’ve caused Brendan and the wider LGBT community and anyone else who I have offended by my comments. I casually used very poor language and have learned a very big lesson today.
'I have chosen to come forward because I believe in being accountable and taking responsibility for your actions, and also because I hope this can be a learning experience for others that homophobic language, even in jest, has wide-reaching and hurtful effects.
'I have also apologised to the Chiefs, as my behaviour yesterday does not reflect the values of our team and organisation.'
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