TJ Perenara's mother has hit back at radio presenter Sean Plunket for criticising the All Blacks halfback commenting on whether it was time for a gay team member.
In an interview with LGBTQIA+ magazine Express, Perenara said the All Blacks welcomed all team members, regardless of their sexuality.
"Our job is to make sure that people from all communities feel comfortable enough to aspire to want to be an All Black, so I would hope that if anyone from the LGBTQIA+ community became an All Black, they would feel accepted and wanted in the environment," Perenara told the magazine.
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But Plunket said on his Wednesday radio show that he wasn't interested in hearing what Perenara had to say and considered he was becoming "a little woke for me".
"It's making me go off you a bit.
"Whether or not there is a gay All Black will come. Whether or not you approve it or not has got nothing to do with anything.
"I'm far more interested in [Ardie] Savea's glasses than your views on gayness, social justice or climate change, TJ. You are a rugby player.
"You pass the ball very well, but I am not interested in your views on all these other things."
Perenara's mum, Fiona Perenara, has now hit out, writing on Facebook that she was proud her son was being "more than just a rugby player".
She lists several prominent Kiwis Perenara was related to - he's the cousin of trade union leader Ken Douglas and a great, great-grandson of the secretary to former Prime Minister Peter Fraser.
Fiona said she, as a 15-year-old, marched against the Springbok tour in 1981.
"He has learnt that we must ensure we are all ok," she wrote. "No one is left behind.
"No one should be reeling in riches, while others can’t put food on the table. Everyone should have the right to fall in love and be loved."
Fiona then tells Plunket that she hopes "you simply cannot help what the heart feels".
"Life is far too short to worry about opinions like yours raining down from your 'ivory towers'."
The response has attracted more than 300 comments on Facebook, with many in full support of the mum.
"Well said All Black Mum," one person wrote.
"Beautifully articulated and to the point!" said another.
Perenara has previously shown support for the LGBT community, opposing controversial and homophobic comments from Israel Folau.
Some All Blacks team-mates have suggested a political career could one day beckon for Perenara, but he says he'd do something more hands on.
"Something that I'm passionate about is working with youth and working with troubled youth," he told Newshub last month.
"It’s an area that I feel like I could have an impact in and I want to have an impact in."
Newshub has contacted Fiona Perenara for further comment.