Having fought his way into the All Blacks starting team in 2019, Sevu Reece found minutes harder to come by for the national side last season.
In fact, Reece featured in just a solitary match – New Zealand’s loss to Australia in Brisbane.
Instead, new coach Ian Foster favoured utility back Jordie Barrett on the right wing, while the likes of George Bridge, Caleb Clarke and Rieko Ioane were given chances on the left.
That’s despite Reece playing a key role in the Crusaders securing a fourth title on the trot, featuring in all seven of their matches and finishing the season as the competition’s second-equal top try scorer.
Evidently, Foster was looking for something more – which has seen Reece return to the drawing board in the hopes of reaffirming his place in the national pecking order in 2021.
“At the end of last year I had to go back into my books and put a really good plan in place of how I want this year to turn out for me,” Reece said, “and I’m pretty sure I’m clear with what I want to achieve this year.”
In last weekend’s victory over the Highlanders, Reece was industrious across the park and nabbed a try for his efforts while keeping opposite Jona Nareki relatively well contained.
This Sunday, the flying Fijian will again square off with another one of the dangermen populating New Zealand sides’ wings – but this time, his opposite may have the wool over Reece, at least when it comes to experience.
That’s because when the Hurricanes comes to Christchurch this weekend, former All Black Julian Savea will almost certainly be wearing No 11.
Like many, Reece grew up watching and admiring the man who was unstoppable at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
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While Savea left New Zealand’s shores at the end of the 2018 season, he returned late last year and will likely be a permanent fixture back on the Hurricanes left wing.
“He’s a massive threat all-round,” Reece said of his opponent for this weekend. “We all know what he could do with ball in hand. You’ve got to be prepared.”
Despite being a fan of Savea’s, Reece isn’t planning on ceding the battle and is confident that despite all the skills and attributes Savea possesses, Reece has a few strengths of his own that he can call upon.
“He’s tall and he’s big and strong, it’s everything you need and it’s just having to come up with a way to try and stop that, or slow it down but I have a few tricks in my head that could help, fingers crossed.”
Reece will be joined in the Crusaders back three by Leicester Fainga’anuku and the returning David Havili, fresh back from a mild concussion.
Sunday’s match, which was originally scheduled for Saturday evening, will kick off at 4:35 pm NZT. The game will be streamed live on RugbyPass for subscribers who hold a Super Rugby Aotearoa season or weekend ticket.
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