Kaino returns to New Zealand

All Blacks blindside flanker Jerome Kaino has returned to New Zealand ahead of Saturday's Test with the Wallabies in Sydney.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has revealed that Kaino, who was left out of the world champions' squad for Rugby Championship opener, is heading to Auckland to deal with a personal matter.

This follows the publication of a story in Australia's Daily Telegraph which alleges that Kaino had an extra-marital affair with a Canberra model.

The claims against Kaino follows fresh allegations earlier this week against All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith, who left the All Black team in disgrace last year ahead of a Test against the Springboks after a tryst with a woman, who was not his partner, in a toilet at Christchurch Airport. 

Saturday's Daily Telegraph article claimed Kaino had been "cheating on his wife with a former Australian model" and that they had met in hotels in Auckland, Sydney and Brisbane before the model, Tara Pokarier, discovered he was married.

The Daily Telegraph reported "a close friend" of Pokarier – with whom Kaino has posed for photos on social media – as saying "clearly there is a cultural problem within the team if this type of thing is going on".

She said Pokarier was devastated to find out Kaino was married, the newspaper claimed.

Kaino and his wife, Diana, have three children.

NZR chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement: "We certainly understand that our game and our players are under public scrutiny and these latest stories are concerning. As an employer, we will take some time to assess this.

"While NZR does not wish to comment on individual behaviour, it is clear that this is really hurting rugby, all the people concerned, our fans and supporters. We take these issues very seriously, and are also mindful that these issues affect people with families and loved ones.

"At a time when we are grappling with our cultural reputation, the Respect and Responsibility Review, which is currently under way, is even more important. The Review is being presented to the NZR Board this month and we are looking to make that public sometime in September."

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