Sidelined All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino isn't guilty of misconduct, but he needs to sort out his private life, New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew says.
Kaino's absence from the All Blacks amidst allegations of an affair was raised as Tew fronted the news media to discuss the findings of the Respect and Responsibility report commissioned by the national body and unveiled in Auckland on Thursday.
The All Blacks have been hit by two high profile issues off-field issues in the last year with star halfback Aaron Smith involved in a toilet tryst at Christchurch International Airport, and the Kaino affair allegations.
Tew emphasised they were different cases.
"Jerome ... his is a very personal matter and it is a different piece of ground that I think tested the [review] panel and it tests us," Tew said.
"There is a moral issue around Jerome but it is very private. He hasn't actually broken any All Black or contractual obligations and so at this stage we believe that the best thing for Jerome is to go away and sort his life out with his family and himself and come back to rugby when he is ready.
"But at this stage we don't believe he has done anything that we would consider to be misconduct under the terms of our contract."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen believes the Jerome Kaino issue is a moral one, and not a matter of misconduct with NZ Rugby.
The allegations against Kaino surfaced when he was in Sydney for the Bledisloe Cup opener for which he wasn't selected. He left the All Blacks and wasn't involved in the subsequent rematch with the Wallabies in Dunedin.
While the All Blacks take on the Pumas in New Plymouth on Saturday, Kaino will make his return to rugby with the Auckland team.
Smith is the subject of a second investigation into his "toilet tryst" after fresh complaints from the woman he was allegedly with.
"In the Aaron Smith case, we are working through a process, we have someone independent looking at the new information that came to light. We are not wanting to rush that process, we think it needs to be done properly and then we will deal with it in the framework of the employment relationship we have with Aaron as we did the first time," Tew said.
Tew believed if the recommendations of the lengthy report are implemented, the next generation of All Blacks would be better equipped to deal with the responsibilities of their position.
"They are addressed on a number of things in here (the report) on the long term because the next All Blacks will come through a programme where we are giving them better tools and better education to equip themselves to make better decisions," he said.
Tew explained the current process of dealing with incidents. The report revealed there had been 36 cases of misconduct investigated by NZR between 2013-17 (33 involving players, two a team and one a club).
"The first thing we do is consider the nature of the allegation. If it is a matter for the police, then we normally step aside and just let the police deal with it. Then we will, come back in due course. There are times when we might consider suspending a player, if he's a professional player, if the criminal offence is such that required that," Tew said.
"Then we work through our process. We treat each case on their merits, we normally set up a panel to hear the misconduct. The process is actually very defined in our collective [agreement].
"It is very tricky. We know we are held to account publicly and that we know we have to send some really clear messages to the other players, but we are bound by the confidentiality of employment relationships and they are tricky."
Review chairwoman Kathryn Beck said her panel at looked at this and recommended that rugby look at its disciplinary performance management framework and make that a lot simpler to understand and follow.
The eight-strong panel felt there needed to be "a very clear understanding that there will be consequences where people step outside was is the expected behaviour".
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Caption: Jerome Kaino needs time to sort out his family life but is not guilty of misconduct, accdording to New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew.