Prominent rugby commentator Joey Wheeler has issued an apology after using a mocking Asian accent to discuss a Japanese player's star performance.
Wheeler was interviewing Highlanders five-eighth Mitchell Hunt following their 33-12 Super Rugby win over the Crusaders, which was keyed by an impressive performance from Japanese international Kazuki Himeno.
Enamoured with the performance, Wheeler inexplicably chose to use a belittling Asian accent when asking Hunt about Himeno.
“He was leally impressive, wasn’t he? He was leally, leally good,” Wheeler said during the live interview.
The moment prompted an instant backlash on social media, with Wheeler himself soon issuing an apology via hist Twitter account.
Rugby broadcaster Sky also issued an apology of their own.
"Tonight I stuffed up! I've spoken with Kazuki Himeno and apologised to him and the Highlanders and our Sky crew," Wheeler wrote on Twitter.
"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."
Following Wheeler's apology on social media, a Sky spokesman reiterated his apology, adding that his language was 'not o the standard expected'.
“Joe Wheeler has spoken with Kazuki and apologised to him and to team management,” Sky's statement said.
“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.”
Fortunately for Wheeler, Himeno replied to his tweet, publicly accepting his apology.
“It's ok joe. Let's enjoy and celebrate our big victory. Let's go landers!!” Himeno wrote in reply.
Highlanders hand Crusaders first defeat
The Highlanders sprung a surprise in Super Rugby Aotearoa, winning 33-12 to condemn the Crusaders to their first defeat of the season.
Tries from Billy Harmon, Michael Collins and Connor Garden-Bachop did the damage for the Highlanders, who climbed off the bottom of the ladder and up into third with only their second win of the campaign.
Mitch Hunt impressed throughout, kicking 18 points in the Good Friday clash in Christchurch.
The Crusaders, who still lead the standings after five games, failed to find their form after going into the match off the back of a bye week.
Two successful penalties from Hunt gave the visitors a 6-0 lead inside the first 19 minutes, with Harmon adding the first try six minutes later.
Pari Pari Parkinson was stopped just short of the line but scrumhalf Folau Fakatava moved the ball wide for Harmon to drive over.
Hunt continued to rack up the points with a conversion and another penalty as Tony Brown's side took a commanding lead only for the Crusaders to edge their way back into the game in the dying moments of the half.
With the hooter having sounded for the completion of the first 40 minutes, the Crusaders kept the ball alive until Codie Taylor smuggled his way over the line to reduce the deficit to 16-7 at the break.
The Crusaders were lifted by Taylor's try, but dogged defensive work by the Highlanders kept the home side at bay as they made a bright start to the second period.
The Highlanders gained some breathing space when Hunt added his fourth penalty and centre Collins scored his try 22 minutes from time after a Will Jordan miss-kick gifted possession to the Highlanders close to the Crusaders' line.
David Havili reduced the deficit 11 minutes from time but his fellow All Black Richie Mo'unga missed the conversion and Canterbury's hopes of a comeback fizzled out, with Garden-Bachop's late try sealing a memorable night for the Highlanders.
Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.