Praise for All Blacks full-back Israel Dagg slumped to disappointment on Sunday over his use of a homophobic slur.
Dagg was hailed as one of the stars of the All Blacks' 30-0 victory over France on Saturday.
But as he revelled in the spotlight he used the word "fag" in a tweet.
The comment attracted widespread criticism leading Dagg to admit to a "wrong choice of word" in a later tweet and saying he had not meant to cause offence.
Former New Zealand women's rugby player and now opposition MP Louisa Wall said All Blacks had a responsibility not to use offensive language.
"They fail to recognise the responsibility they have as leaders in New Zealand society, and the influence they have on a whole generation not only of young people, but they represent all New Zealanders now," she told Fairfax Media.
A representative of the group Queer Avengers, Sara Fraser, told ZB News of her disgust.
"Really it's just indicative of the fact that although we now have marriage equality and things on the surface appear to be getting better, in actual fact they're not," she said.
New Zealand became the first Asia-Pacific country to legalise same-sex marriage in April in a decision celebrated with parties across the gay community.