Former Australia rugby league international Billy Moore has apologised for his use of a contentious term to describe the New Zealand Warriors’ style of play.
Speaking on the Fox NRL 360 programme on Thursday, Moore was asked in a panel discussion about the Warriors’ ability to score points without injured playmaker Shaun Johnson.
“I don’t see them losing the ability to still score points,” he said on the programme.
“They get points because they play that coconut style, Polynesian sort of football… throwing it around.”
He has since apologised for those remarks, calling into Fox Sports News to express his regret.
“I just want to take this opportunity to express my sincere apologies in regards to the comment I made last night on FOX 360,” he said.
“I was trying to articulate the New Zealand Warriors’ free-spirited attacking style, I used a poor choice of words.”
Warriors managing director Jim Doyle expressed disappointment at the comments, describing the use of the term “coconut” as unnecessary.
“We’re disappointed Billy used that description when he was talking about our team,” he said in a statement.
“We’re proud of our Polynesian heritage and what Polynesian players and people have done for our club and what they mean to us.”
Doyle said it was especially disappointing the comments were made at a time when race issues were in the headlines, particularly with the furore surrounding AFL player Adam Goodes and the fact the NRL has its Indigenous round next week.
Moore said he’d since been informed the term has an insulting connotation.
“Knowing that now I understand why people have taken offence so I just want to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to all those in the Polynesian and Maori community,” he said.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith posted a message on Twitter on Friday morning.
“To be really clear there is no room for racism in @NRL. We will not have it. Very disappointed if anyone thinks that is acceptable. It’s not.”