Candice Warner has broken down revisiting the trauma of her infamous incident with cross-code rugby great Sonny Bill Williams in an emotional interview set to air on The Project on Sunday night.
The pair met at the Clovelly Hotel in 2007, with the then-21-year-old Bulldogs star celebrating a win with teammates while the 22-year-old Warner had attended with friends after a day out at the races.
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“We were chatting, there was some flirting, and then we did, we wanted to kiss,” Warner revealed.
The pair headed into a cubicle in the bathrooms at the venue, where another patron held a phone camera under the door and snapped a photo, sparking national headlines.
“It’s clear that all these years later, that shame has been a really heavy burden to carry,” Project host Sarah Harris said to Warner, in an exclusive extract from the interview you can watch above.
The 38-year-old former ironwoman then broke down in tears as she revealed the ongoing emotional fallout of the incident.
“It’s really real for me, it’s the pain that I caused my family, it’s the pain and hurt, like it’s so deep. I just thought ‘this is it,’ I just couldn’t take it anymore,” Warner said.
“I couldn’t take the headlines, I couldn’t take dissapointing my parents, I couldn’t take it all, it was all too much.
“From then on (my brother) Pat would check in on me daily and I felt like I needed to get to that point to be able to move on to a degree.”
Warner has touched on the incident previously in public, going on SAS Australia in 2020 and telling her fellow contestants it was something she regrets.
“A long time ago, when I was young, I got myself in a compromising position, which I regret,” she said at the time.
“It had a huge impact on my family. Huge.
“It was just a personal situation. Too many drinks.
“Living with that and having to explain to my kids in the future is going to be very difficult. Especially when you’ve got three girls.
“I remember sitting on the side of the street and not being able to take it anymore.
“Yes, I’d made a mistake. But is that really worth, every single day, the media trying to drag me down? I don’t think so.
“It is not something I am proud of but something I can never take back.”
In the upcoming interview with The Project, Warner also speaks out about her star cricketer husband David, who underwent his own public scandal with the 2018 Sandpapergate ball-tampering saga.
“We felt like criminals, we felt and were treated like absolute criminals,” she said, also revealing that there might be details we are yet to find out about the scandal that cost David his place in the national side for a year and permanently barred him from leadership positions.
“I know enough to know he’s taken his fair share of the blame. Maybe a little too much,” she said.
The infamous 2018 South Africa tour itself was a melting pot of torment for the Warner family, and Candice has spoken out previously about some of the unsavoury experiences of that tour.
Candice was mocked by fans and South African cricket administrators wearing Sonny Bill Williams face masks in Port Elizabeth, while David copped it on the field.
The fiery Aussie opener had to be physically restrained by teammates from South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock in a stairwell in now-infamous scenes, with opposition captain Faf du Plessis forced to sort out the exchange wearing nothing but a towel.
“I cop it left, right and centre, especially off the field from spectators and I’m used to that and it doesn’t bother me,” Warner said at the time.
“But in a proximity of my personal space and from behind me, a comment that was vile and disgusting about my wife, and in general about a lady, was quite poor, I felt.
“My emotional response was just something that I don’t believe should have been said and I’ll always stick up for my family and in that case my teammates as well.”
Candice Warner’s interview comes ahead of the release of her memoir, Running Strong – which will be published by HarperCollins on April 19 and is available for pre-order now.
See the full exclusive interview on The Sunday Project from 6.30pm Sunday night on Ten and 10 play.
News Source: https://www.news.com.au/sport/cricket/candice-warner-opens-up-on-impact-of-sonny-bill-williams-sandpaper-scandals/news-story/e353c63450f78ec09f05b51e4cfdaa4a