Both the forwards and backs have some truly world class players, as John McKee’s team is littered with some of the biggest names in France’s Top 14. The squad will meet up in July, and will face the Maori All Blacks, Japan, Canada and Samoa in July and August, before heading to the World Cup.
However, one noticeable omission from the squad is the Crusaders’ Sevu Reece. The winger is uncapped, and is eligible to play for Fiji, having been born there, and New Zealand, having moved there when he was 14.
The 22-year-old has been in devastating form this season for the rampant Crusaders. Standing at only 5ft 10, Reece packs a huge amount of power, and has been one of the revelations of the season for the reigning champions.
Having been overlooked by the Chiefs, Reece was set to join Irish province Connacht in 2018, but that was cancelled due to an off field incident. Scott Robinson’s team have given him a chance this season, and he has taken it.
Although McKee has stated that there is still a chance for players that have not been picked to represent Fiji at the World Cup, it is bizarre that Reece has not been selected immediately. He is fit, and his form warrants a selection currently.
However, this may simply be because he is still playing in Super Rugby, and there is still a way to go in the season, particularly for the Crusaders. On the other hand, the northern hemisphere competitions are drawing to a close.
This omission may also signify that the winger has opted to take his chances with the All Blacks in the future, and potentially the World Cup. Throughout this Super Rugby season, Reece’s form, and which country he should represent, has been a keenly discussed topic, as he seems to improve week on week.
It would be a very tall order to make it into Steve Hansen’s team for the showcase in Japan, which starts in September, but with many All Blacks moving on after the tournament, such as Ben Smith and Waisake Naholo, a space may open up for the winger.
Reece still faces stiff competition from his teammates at the Crusaders to make it into the national team, regardless of whether it is before or after the World Cup. Braydon Ennor and Will Jordan are two young outside backs that are also attracting a lot of attention; part of the conveyor belt of talent that comes through the Crusaders’ system. As well as those two, five-cap peripheral All Black David Havili has also put his hand up for selection.
While there is little doubt that Reece would earn a place in Fiji’s squad, it was always going to be tougher to become an All Black. After all, Hansen probably has the greatest pool of talent to choose from in world rugby. Then again, the financial incentive is far greater for Reece, and at the end of the day, this is his livelihood. The prestige of playing for the iconic black jersey may also be too tempting for Reece.
Perhaps this may be a case of looking into something too much, but the fact that there has not even been a caveat regarding Reece’s selection after Super Rugby reaches its conclusion, could show where his international future lies.
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