Sun. Sep 15th, 2019

Rugby World Cup 2019: Player to watch – Sevu Reece

Sevu Reece is currently a real contender for newcomer of the year and he looks set to enjoy a great Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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The All Blacks preparations for the 2019 Rugby World Cup haven’t gone exactly to plan but they will draw enormous positives from the form of Sevu Reece.

The Crusaders wing enjoyed an excellent Super Rugby campaign showing he has all the skills a modern wing needs.

From nowhere to Rugby World Cup certainty

Coming up in Fiji, Reece didn’t even play out on the wing but upon arriving in New Zealand as a 17-year-old soon found himself getting acquainted with the position.

Reece emerged through the ranks of club rugby in Hamilton and became a regular for Waikato in the Mitre 10 and Ranfurly Shield.

In 2018 he seemed set to quit rugby in New Zealand for life with Irish Club Connacht in the Pro14. The move would almost certainly have seen him turn out for Fiji at international level given the All Blacks rules on foreign-based players.

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Sevu Reece scored a hat-trick as the Crusaders demolished the Bulls in Super Rugby at Loftus Versfeld. Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images.

However, Reece conspired to torpedo the move with a drunken incident of domestic abuse. Connacht cancelled the deal and Reece remained in New Zealand.

In December 2018, Reece was called up to the Crusaders pre-season squad. The winger himself believed that he would simply be training with the most successful Super Rugby side in history, but fate would intervene again. Crusaders and All Blacks outside back Israel Dagg suffered a career-ending injury and the door opened for Reece.

Reece made an immediate impact scoring a try on Super Rugby debut and earning the man of the match award in that match against the Chiefs.

All the right moves

Blessed with tremendous pace, ability in the air and strength, you’d be hard-pressed to design a better All Black wing than Reece.

He enjoyed a stellar 2019 Super Rugby campaign and earned himself a spot in the All Blacks Rugby Championship training group.

Even off the back of his phenomenal Super Rugby campaign it seemed that Reece was still behind the likes of Rieko Ioane and Ben Smith in the pecking order and couldn’t be assured of a place in the Rugby World Cup squad.

Ioane and Smith failed to impress in the Rugby Championship with little service from the inside backs and Reece was afforded an opportunity in the Bledisloe Cup decider at Eden Park.

The match against the Wallabies in Auckland announced Reece’s arrival on the international scene.

After his display against Australia coach Steve Hansen was full of praise for Reece and his Crusaders wingmate George Bridge.

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Sevu Reece of the All Blacks is tackled during The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australian Wallabies at Eden Park on August 17, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

“We saw lots of energy and lots of intent,” he observed. “They were great under the high ball, great chasing kicks … so it’s a bit of pressure on the other guys now to front up. There’s the old saying ‘never give a sucker an even break because he’ll take it’. Now we’ve got some genuine competition. It will be good to see how it unfolds.”

The All Blacks face Tonga in a warm-up match ahead of the Rugby World Cup, which is less than a month away, and Hansen is likely to trot out his current first choice XV. Reece is expected to take up a spot on the wing in that side and should also face the Springboks in Yokohama if all goes to plan.

All Black wings have made a massive impact at the Rugby World Cup in the past and Reece could add to that tradition in Japan. He is one to watch for the fans and the Boks would do well to keep an eye on him too.

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