Sevu Reece was one of the uncapped New Zealand players named in their 39-man squad this morning, but things could have been a lot different following a turbulent few months.
As well as reaching the final, Reece is leading the try-scoring charts with a
whopping 15 tries and 29 try assists.
Things couldn’t look brighter for the youngster as he prepares for the Super Rugby final and the Rugby Championship.
The province and Reece agreed a two-year deal that would have seen him join them in November 2018 and would have made him unavailable for international selection with the All Blacks.
The twist in the move was that Reece was brought to court in after getting involved in an altercation with his girlfriend on a night out.
Reece appeared in Hamilton District Court in relation to domestic abuse, with the judge acknowledging he expressed remorse and apologised, leading to him being discharged without conviction.
Despite being discharged Connacht released a statement later to announce that they would no longer be signing the youngster due to his appearance in court.
“Connacht Rugby and the IRFU have taken the decision, following contact with Sevu Reece in relation to the circumstances of a recent court appearance, not to proceed with a contract to play with the province,” the statement said.
Reece was left wondering if any of the Super Rugby clubs would offer him a contract and nearing the end of October last year he still had not been contacted.
“I would love to have a Super Rugby contract but, at this moment, there is nothing there for me,” he said.
It looked as though Reece would have to seek a move abroad to play at a higher level, until the Crusaders handed Reece a lifeline which has seen him blossom.
In April of this year he was talked about how what happened is the past and he wanted to focus on his career now.
“That’s all in the past and all that has been dealt with. I’m just going to keep working hard,” he said.
Working hard is exactly what he’s done. Going on to become the competitions top-try scorer and claiming a final spot as the Crusaders chase a third title in as many years.
That hard work has caught the eye of All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen, who sees enough in Reece to call him up.
Things could have been a lot different if he had have signed for Connacht, but it’s all worked out for the better in Reece’s eyes.
Less than a year ago it seemed impossible that the Fijian born back would get anywhere near the New Zealand squad. Now, after taking his second chance in both hands, the reality is that Reece will have to be prepared to take this chance as place on the plane to Japan for the World Cup looks ever-more possible.
Robertson Discusses All Blacks Disappointment
After missing out on the role of All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson has admitted his disappointment and his plans for the future
Robertson made it to the very end of the process in the hunt to become the new All Blacks head coach, only to lose out to former head coach Steve Hansen’s assistant Ian Foster and is still feeling the pain of losing out.
“There’s always a natural process as a human, there’s a natural disappointment because I’ve put everything into it. They think they have the best man for the job and, look, through the process, I did everything I possibly could; they got who I was and how I would have loved to have led the All Blacks and they were clear with my vision and how we were going to do it, but it wasn’t to be. It’s been a good four months, hasn’t it? It feels like it’s been an election in its own way. I prepared well, everyone understands what I’ve done with my record… I had a great two and a half hours in front of the board and it went another way,” he said.
The 45-year-old has impressed many with his managerial career so far and showed his class by admitting he congratulated Foster after he was announced as the New Zealand head coach.
“I flicked a text (to Foster) to say congratulations to him. It’s been a big few months and obviously it’s nothing personal, he’s in a position like me and wants to do the best for himself and the country,” he added.
Many have feared that after Foster’s appointment that Robertson would move abroad to continue his coaching career, which has seen him record a win-percentage over 80% with Canterbury and Crusaders, winning three Super Rugby titles on the bounce with the latter.
However, Robertson has confirmed that he will be staying with the Crusaders for the remainder of his contract.
“I’m coaching the team I love, where I’ve had a lot of great moments as a player and now as a coach, I’ve got a lot of special bonds and a chance to do something pretty special,” he finished up.
The interesting part is that Foster’s contract with New Zealand runs out in two years as well, meaning that the door may still be open for Robertson to take over come 2022.
Wallabies Confirm New Backroom Staff for Rennie
The Wallabies have announced some new members of Dave Rennie’s backroom staff ahead of his arrival in the summer of 2020
Rugby Australia have confirmed the arrival of several key backroom staff members for incoming head coach Dave Rennie’s tenure.
Top of the list is new assistant coach Scott Wisemantel, who joins on a four-year contract following his departure from the England set-up last month.
England were keen to tie-down the attack coach after he helped lead them to the Rugby World Cup final, but the 49-year-old decided to move on with many touting him to take up his new role with the Wallabies, which he is extremely excited about.
“I’m really looking forward to returning home to Australia after ten years and for the opportunity to work alongside Dave Rennie. I’ve learnt a few things from working with various programs around the world and it’s given me another perspective on how to view the game as an Attack Coach. Historically, the Wallabies have been innovative in how they play the game and how they attack so I want to bring that to the table. There’s a good group of players with some exciting talent coming through, which will create competition for spots amongst the current crop. I’m looking forward to get stuck into it and visiting the Super Rugby teams early in the New Year, seeing how I can learn off them and prepare for a really important 2020 season,” he said.
Wisemantel brings a wealth of experience to the new set-up and will be hoping to provide the Wallabies with an attacking edge that they sometimes lacked in must-win games.
As well as Wisemantel Rugby Australia has confirmed the arrival of elite sports performance specialist Dean Benton, who will take up the role of National Head of Athletic Performance. While high-performance manager Chris Webb joins as General Manager.
Speaking on the appointments Rugby Australia’s director of rugby Scott Johnson believes that they will all add a certain something special to the set-up and is delighted that Wisemantel in particular has come on board.
“These are all important appointments for what we want to achieve with our Wallabies program and broadly for the implementation of our national high performance plan over the next four years. Scott’s return to Australia is a huge coup for the Wallabies. He’s got great experience and has had success with club sides in Europe as well as with other International sides, but I also know what he’s like as a person and as a coach and he will add tremendous value to the group. Dave (Rennie) has been closely involved in the appointment of Scott and I know those two guys will complement each other really well,” he said.
Rennie is currently head coach with PRO14 outfit Glasgow Warriors and will take up his new position at the end of the current season in June 2020. He is expected to change the team during his four-years in charge and with these high-profile names already on his side, the Wallabies could become a powerhouse of the game once again.
Jones Confirms his 2021 Lions Ambitions
Alun Wyn Jones has discussed his plans for the future as well as his thoughts on the past year in Welsh Rugby
The towering second-row is considered to be one of the best in his position of all-time and if he were to make it to the tour he would be edging towards 35-years of age, and a fourth tour with the Lions. However, he is aware that he will need to be at the peak of his powers to be considered and is trying not to look too far ahead.
“I am not going to lie, I am aware it’s there, but it’s a two-pronged answer. You are never going to say never, but you don’t want to be too greedy as well. I am fully aware you have to be fit and playing well to be selected. If the planets align and I am potentially still there, then it’s somebody else’s decision. The losses still hurt but they inspire you to go on as well. It does spur you on and make you want to go again,” he said.
The lock appears to have turned back the years and seems to be playing his best rugby over the past year, having lead his side to a Six Nations Grand Slam and a fourth-place finish at the Rugby World Cup, as well as reaching the No 1 spot of the World Rugby rankings for the first time in the country’s history.
However, the man who has overseen his growth in the national side, Warren Gatland, has stepped aside as head coach following his 12-year stay, with Wayne Pivac coming in and Jones is excited by the prospect of the new era ahead.
“One of the highlights of the year was the Grand Slam, but you also look at the likes of Josh Adams, Aaron Wainwright, Tomos Williams and others. People have had opportunities and stood up. That’s probably as big as a Grand Slam and with a new coach, it’s exciting times. I’ve sat down with him (Pivac) on a few occasions,” he added.
Jones has confirmed that he will use his pain from losing out on the Rugby World Cup title to push on with his new head coach.
“We are carrying a bit of hurt from the World Cup. I am on a personal level because we went out there believing we could win it. Having had the Sunday morning after Grand Slams and Championships and winning trophies you want that. Warren was honest, consistent and essentially really proud of what he did and what he created with Wales. The phrase has been coined that it’s Wayne’s World now. Wayne is going to do it in his way but carry on with some of the foundations that have been laid,” he finished up.
Jones will be hoping to push on in the new year as Wales look to defend their Six Nations crown, while he will also continue his own individual push towards becoming the most-capped international player of all-time after going second this year.
If he can keep up his current form over the next 18-months, he will surely be in contention for the Lions and could even be named captain as he would be reunited with his old friend Gatland, who will coach the side for a third successive tour.
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