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'When we're not performing on the field, it...

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'When we're not performing on the field, it makes sense to suffer criticism' - Kaino on the Savea fall-out

Jerome Kaino believes the criticisms in France about the club form of fellow Kiwis Aaron Cruden and Julian Savea are justified. 

However, the Toulouse back row claims Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal crossed a line with his personalised attack on Savea.

Asked in the Friday print edition of Midi Olympique if the criticisms regarding Cruden’s and Savea’s form this season were justified, Kaino accepted that how a player plays should always be a topic up for discussion.  

“Of course. They [the criticisms] are not too harsh from the moment they relate to the level of play. We practice a high level sport where, when we are not performing on the field, it makes sense to suffer criticism. 

“We must accept it. I only think that when the family can be impacted, that’s too much. The limit is the personal aspect,” explained Savea, who jumped to Savea’s defence after his former All Black colleague was publicly savaged by his employer.

(Continue reading below…)

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“I did not want to interfere in this story because it does not involved me and I do not know all the details. But I just wanted to support Julian and his family, because his family was affected by the critics.”

Former Toulon winger Bryan Habana also weighed in on the debate in the same edition of the bi-weekly French rugby newspaper. 

“As a player from Toulon, you have to learn to go beyond what the president says,” he suggested, reflecting on the row that blew up surrounding the calibre of performances Savea is producing in his first season in the Top 14.

Life in France hasn’t been easy for Julian Savea, here in Super Rugby action for Hurricanes against Ryan Crotty and Jack Goodhue of the Crusaders in 2018 (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)

“It’s easy to be in support of the team when it wins, it should also be done when it is in trouble. These outings are not pleasant for any player,” said Habana, who won multiple trophies with the club before it went into decline. 

“Nobody comes to Toulon to play badly. When they lack confidence and results, it is disappointing to see that their environment does not support them. In these events, players must remain welded, grouped. But all this interference from the outside does not help them.”

While Savea and Toulon have a weekend off as they failed to survive their European pool campaign, Kaino is heading for Paris with Toulouse and an all-French quarter-final against Racing 92. He can’t wait for the heavyweight contest to unfold.

“All matches are important, but this one is especially important,” he said. “Since my arrival, my obsession is to take Toulouse where it should be. In the Champions Cup, it means to be in the final or semi-finals, but for that you have to pass this quarter. I have looked forward to it for weeks. I feed on these kinds of challenges.

“You only have to look at the names of the opponents, all those internationals in the camp opposite to understand. The European Cup is known in New Zealand. We usually see the finals or big games since the days of the Heineken Cup. 

“All the countrymen with whom I had spoken told me that they loved this competition, that it was close to the international level. That’s why I knew, before signing at Toulouse, the wealth and success of this club on the European scene. 

“It is also one of the main reasons for my coming. Other All Blacks before me participated in its success. I hope it will be my turn. I know this competition has a lot of value here.”

Set to turn 36 on April 6, Kaino revealed he is still unsure if the 2019/20 season will be his last playing the sport. “I’ve no idea. Never say never. The only thing I know is that my contract ends at the end of next season.”

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'When we're not performing on the field, it makes sense to suffer criticism' - Kaino on the Savea fall-out