Nick Cummins is set to return to rugby following a three-year hiatus after being named in a World XV squad to take on his former side, the Western Force, next week.
Cummins, commonly known as the ‘Honey Badger’, headlines the Robbie Deans-coached side, which will open the Force’s 2019 Global Rapid Rugby exhibition series in Perth on March 22.
The crowd at nib Stadium are likely to give Cummins a warm homecoming reception, as the 15-test wing was a firm fan favourite thanks to his unique humour and quick-witted nature which he developed during his eight-season stay at the franchise between 2008 and 2015.
He last played professional rugby in 2016, when he turned out for the Australian national sevens side as they prepared for the Olympic games.
That same year, he also played in the Japanese Top League for the Coca-Cola Red Sparks.
Since then, Cummins has moved into a career in media and television, with his most prominent role coming last year when he was announced as the star of the Australian version of The Bachelor.
Joining him in the team are former World Cup-winning All Blacks Wyatt Crockett, Andy Ellis and Corey Flynn, former Wallabies wing Digby Ioane, and ex-Springbok Gio Aplon.
There are 10 players with test match experience in the 22-man squad, with six nations being represented in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Japan and Tonga.
The squad will have just four days to prepare for the fixture when they congregate in Western Australia on March 18, but Deans is confident in his players to put on a show.
“We have achieved wins off similar time frames in terms of preparation against the Japanese Test side and the players we have selected for this game won’t lack for motivation,” he said.
“In a few short years, this team has built up an outstanding history to the extent that many who have played have said afterwards the experience ranked up there with the most enjoyable of their careers.”
The Force’s billionaire owner, Andrew Forrest, had to put his Global Rapid Rugby competition on hold this year as he ran out of time to organise eight fully-fledged franchises from across Asia and the Pacific to partake in the tournament.
Instead, the former Super Rugby club will take on the World XV, South China Tigers, Asia Pacific Dragons, Fijian Latui, Kagifa Samoa and a yet-to-be-confirmed side in a 10-match exhibition series across Australia, Asia and the Pacific.
Forrest intends to have the competition launched by 2020.
World XV Squad: Gio Aplon (South Africa), Yoshikazu Fujita (Japan), Nick Cummins (Australia), Digby Ioane (Australia), Dylan Riley (Australia), Inga Finau (New Zealand), Kosei Ono (Japan), Leon Fukofuka (Tonga), Andy Ellis (New Zealand, captain), Leonardo Senatore (Argentina), Hugh Renton (New Zealand), Michael Curry (New Zealand), Shota Fukui (Japan), Michael Oakman-Hunt (Australia), Jack Cornelsen (Australia), Hamish Dalzell (New Zealand), Tom Moloney (Australia), Chris King (New Zealand), Shohei Hirano (Japan), Wyatt Crockett (New Zealand), Greg Pleasants-Tate (New Zealand), Corey Flynn (New Zealand)
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