A New Zealand TV presenter has admitted he ‘stuffed up’ after putting on an offensive impersonation of an Asian accent when referring to the Highlanders’ Japan international Kazuki Himeno.
Joe Wheeler, who has played for the Highlanders and for Suntory Sungoliath in the Japanese Top League, made the comments after Friday’s Super Rugby Aotearoa clash.
Wheeler put on the accent when talking about Himeno on Sky Sports NZ, and it quickly sparked fierce backlash on social media. Sky chief executive Sophie Moloney also said the comments were ‘very disappointing’.
‘He was leally impressive, wasn’t he? He was leally, leally good,’ Wheeler said to Highlanders star Mitchell Hunt.
Please tell me Joe Wheeler didn’t just make a fucking awful Asian accent joke when talking about Kazuki Himeno… pic.twitter.com/OTQRihkFam
— Jamie Wall (@JamieWall2) April 2, 2021
Tonight I stuffed up! I’ve spoken with @teikyo_8 (Kazuki Himeno) and apologised to him and the @Highlanders and our Sky crew.I absolutely accept this is not the standard expected of the sideline team.I’ve got some work to do obviously,but I’m absolutely committed to doing better.
— Joey Wheeler (@joey_wheelz) April 2, 2021