Julian Savea has put his rugby struggles in France aside to voice his support for the Muslim community in the wake of the Christchurch shootings.
Former All Blacks wing Savea said he was “still heartbroken” over last Friday’s two attacks on mosques that left 50 people dead and many injured.
“I’ve been privileged enough to learn about Islam through my wife’s family, especially her grandparents,” Savea tweeted from the south of France where he is contracted to the Toulon club.
“They’ve been to Mecca twice, they pray 5 times a day, they encouraged me to fast during Ramadan and taught me what it means to be a Muslim.
“And I will make sure my children learn about Islam too because it’s a beautiful religion, and Muslims are the kindest people I have met. I am still so heartbroken over Friday’s events and I want the Muslim community to know that I stand with you all.”
Savea had earlier retweeted an emotional speech given by Naila Hassan, New Zealand’s highest-ranking Muslim police officer, at a vigil for the victims of the Christchurch attack.
The big wing hasn’t played for a month, missing Toulon’s last three games, after his lack of form was seriously questioned by the club’s wealthy owner Mourad Boudjellal who suggested Savea was no longer welcome there.
Savea is in the first season of a two year deal and has vowed to stay on and win back his place in the team.
Toulon have seven games left in a poor Top 14 season where their playoffs hopes have all but disappeared.