The Irish media continue to fire jabs at the All Blacks ahead of tonight’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final with one of the latest pieces focusing on Sevu Reece’s selection.
Ruaidhri O’Connor wrote in the Irish Independent that the selection of Reece has the All Blacks “ignoring their own values” and “undermining their culture”.
O’Connor’s comments refer to a domestic violence incident Reece was involved in last July.
The Waikato winger was discharged without conviction and fined $750 for his actions.
The incident saw Reece lose his two-year deal overseas with Irish club Connacht.
Reece was eventually picked up by the Crusaders for pre-season training and took the opportunity with both hands, progessing to starting for the eventual Super Rugby Champions and earning selection for the All Blacks in a World Cup year.
The 22-year-old then pushed an out-of-form Ben Smith out of the starting line-up with an impressive performance in the No.14 jersey during the All Blacks’ must-win Bledisloe Test in Auckland and has since remained Steve Hansen’s first choice on the wing.
O’Connor claimed Reece’s selection was a risk by Hansen.
“The decision to include him shows the lengths the coach is willing to go to, the sacrifices he is willing to make as he looks to sustain the All Blacks’ place on top of the world, that he is willing to risk the team’s reputation as being cultural leaders to select a player with such a record,” O’Connor wrote.
“He’s so good at rugby, the All Blacks have made peace with his indiscretions and selected him anyway.
“But selecting him has left them open to the accusation that they have undermined their own culture for the sake of the win.”
Reece was asked about his whirlwind rise yesterday but gave a reserved response.
“That’s a tough question,” he said. “Like I said before, I’m here now, I can’t dwell too much on what-ifs. It’s just, for me, moving forward, about how I carry myself and contribute to the team on Saturday.”
Tonight’s quarter-final kicks off at 10:15pm in Tokyo and you can watch the match live on Fiji One.