NRL legend opens up about the slur that made ‘the whole of New Zealand want to kill him’ – and the real reason for the remarks
- Willie Mason shared the story behind his slur in the haka in the 2006 Tri-Nations
- The 40-year-old former NRL star was captured saying ‘f**k off’ on the broadcast
- It was viewed as slamming New Zealand culture, but it was aimed at Brent Webb
- Mason copped a defensive assault from the Kiwi forwards after his outburst
Willie Mason has opened up on the moment he was accused of disrespecting the haka and the torment of abuse he copped from New Zealand players as a result.
The 40-year-old former NRL star played for the Australian Kangaroos in the 2006 Tri-Nations tournament, where he was caught up in a scandal over an outburst during the Kiwi’s traditional war dance.
The prop forward was shown on the broadcast yelling ‘f**k off’ during the haka, which was viewed as him slamming New Zealand culture.
But Mason said that was not the case and he was having a dig at All Black’s fullback Brent Webb.
Willie Mason (pictured) has shared the story behind his slur during the haka in the 2006 Tri-Nations Tournament in New Zealand
‘I was born in New Zealand – the whole “disrespecting the haka”, it’s pretty hard to do. There’s nothing but respect to the haka,’ Mason said on The Fan.
‘It was Brent Webb, who at that time, he was a cheeky little dude. He was hammering me and I’m like, “You can’t make the Australian side. You’re Aboriginal and you can’t make the Aussie side. You’re playing for New Zealand”. And a few expletives in there.
‘Then the camera zoomed in when I’m telling him to go and get effed and then the whole nation turns on me, saying I’m disrespecting the haka, telling the haka to get effed.
‘I said, “I don’t think that’s possible”. But they ran with it and the whole of New Zealand wanted to kill me.’
Mason was captured saying ‘f**k off’ on the broadcast during the haka (pictured), which was aimed at All Blacks fullback Brent Webb
Mason’s slur caught the attention of his opponents, with the 115kg giant copping a brutal shoulder charge from rival second rower David Kidwell midway through the first half.
‘I reckon he gave him about three verses of the haka after he hit him, too!’ commentator Phil Gould said after the savage hit.
Mason was attacked in the media after the slur, even after he explained who his sledge was aimed at.
He said his slur was taken the wrong way and lead to him taking the hit of his career.
‘It was just taken out of context. I just didn’t understand why and how you could disrespect the haka, by just telling another bloke to get effed,’ he said.
The Kangaroos went on to win the match 30-8, before claiming the Tri-Nations weeks later with a 16-12 win over the Kiwis in golden point extra time.
Mason (pictured at the Australian premiere of Straight Outta Compton in Sydney in September 2015) copped a defensive assault from the Kiwi forwards after his outburst