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Cullen approves Reece call-up

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Chorus grows louder for Sevu Reece national call-up as ex-All Black endorses his selection

Former All Blacks great Christian Cullen has joined the growing chorus of calls to include Crusaders rookie Sevu Reece in the All Blacks squad at the end of the Super Rugby campaign.

The 22-year-old has been in outstanding form in his debut season at this level, scoring six tries in four starts, with two of his most recent scores coming during the Crusaders’ 36-10 win over the Lions in Christchurch last Friday.

Both tries were spectacular efforts which have sent much of the New Zealand public into a frenzy about Reece’s talents, which Cullen believes could be good enough to earn him selection into this year’s All Blacks World Cup side.

“We’ve seen it before with Nehe Milner-Skudder [in 2015],” the 60-test veteran said, according to Stuff.

“He [Sevu Reece] has been playing really well, he’s got all the tools. But in saying that, he’s playing outside a pretty good Crusaders team. I guess you’ve still got to score the tries and do the work, he’s been doing that.

“I don’t think he would let anybody down. There’s probably a couple of blokes that could fit into that spot that wouldn’t let the team down.”

Regardless of whether he is selected for the All Blacks or not, Reece looks set to play test match rugby.

As the only member of his family living in New Zealand, a call-up to Fiji isn’t out of the question, as Fiji head coach John McKee reportedly approached Reece about the prospect of playing for his side, according to the Fijian Sun.

However, his mother Amelia confirmed to the news outlet that Reece, who has re-signed with Waikato for the 2019 Mitre 10 Cup, is set to receive a New Zealand passport later this year.

“We will not interfere, but it will be a pleasant surprise if he gets selected for the All Blacks,” she said.

While Reece has been capturing the imagination of the New Zealand rugby public with his scintillating performances, Cullen praised the efforts of Hurricanes youngster Wes Goosen, who has played admirably for the Wellington-based franchise this year.

“The thing about Wes, he can cover the midfield, as well, and he’s been playing pretty well,” Cullen said.

“He’s a finisher and he’s deceptively quick. Some of those tries he’s scored over the last couple of weekends have been pretty good.

“They’ve both put their hands up, I think.”

Others to have impressed Cullen in the outside backs throughout Super Rugby have been Crusaders duo George Bridge and Braydon Ennor, both of whom he admitted have put pressure on incumbent All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo, who has been badly out of sorts for the Highlanders this season, and remains out of action with a knee injury.

While Bridge, who attended the All Blacks’ ‘foundation day’ camp in Wellington earlier this month, has predominantly played at left wing, Cullen didn’t see any issue with him moving to the right wing to accomodate Rieko Ioane.

“I don’t know how difficult it is. I just moved from fullback to the right-wing, I never played left. I’m sure it can’t be that hard. I’m sure a guy like Bridge could move to the right-wing if needed.”

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Chorus grows louder for Sevu Reece national call-up as ex-All Black endorses his selection