Rugby League

Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa: Video resurfaces as Sky commentator Joe Wheeler apologises for use of mock Asian accent

An old video has resurfaced in light of last night’s incident involving Sky Sport commentator Joe Wheeler, where he made offensive comments in a post-match incident.

Wheeler had to apologise to Highlanders flanker Kazuki Himeno after comments he made following the team’s 33-12 win over the Crusaders on Friday night when he praised Himeno’s performance in a mock-Asian accent.

“He was leally impressive, wasn’t he? He was leally, leally good,” Wheeler said to Hunt on the live broadcast.

His comments didn’t go down well with the audience.

A video from 2017 has since re-emerged on Youtube, where Wheeler pays tribute to former Highlander Fumiaki Tanaka after he signed with the Sunwolves. His cover of Adele’s hit ‘Hello’ was instead sung as ‘Haro’.

The video, posted by Highlanders TV, which was sponsored by KFC, features lyrics such as “Haro from the Japan side” and “I thought we were going to a bar to sing karaoke and sip on sake”.

While comments at the time were positive, the tone has changed somewhat after last night’s incident.

“Well this did not age well…c’mon mate get with the times! Not very kiwi of you, Not doing yourself any favors’,” one user commented.

In a statement to the Herald, a spokesperson for Sky confirmed Wheeler apologised to Himeno as well as Highlanders management after Friday night’s incident.

“Joe Wheeler has spoken with Kazuki and apologised to him and to team management.

“He absolutely accepts this is not the standard expected of the broadcast team.

“Sky is committed to being culturally respectful and we expect all crew to do the right thing.”

Wheeler himself took to social media to apologise.

“Tonight I stuffed up! I’ve spoken with @teikyo_8 (Kazuki Himeno) and apologised to him and the @Highlanders and our Sky crew.I absolutely accept this is not the standard expected of the sideline team. I’ve got some work to do obviously, but I’m absolutely committed to doing better,” he wrote on Twitter.

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