'I think about a lot of things': Why Sevu Reece has shifted wings
Rather, Foster has picked the 24-year-old Reece to start on the left wing, in what will be his 10th All Blacks appearance.
With fellow Crusader Will Jordan currently in red-hot form with six tries in his last two games and George Bridge adjusting back to test rugby after a lengthy period out with injury, perhaps Foster’s decision indicates a desire to test new combinations in this, the final game of the 2021 Steinlager Series.
Reece enjoyed an outstanding first season with the Crusaders back in 2019, being named Super Rugby rookie of the year and finishing that season as the competition’s top try-scorer with 15. Reece’s contribution proved pivotal as the Crusaders landed their third consecutive Super Rugby title under head coach Scott Robertson.
An All Blacks call-up from Steve Hansen saw Reece travel to the World Cup in Japan that same year, where he definitively stamped his claim to the No 14 jersey, whilst Crusaders teammate George Bridge took responsibility of the left wing side.
This will be Reece’s first game as the All Blacks’ No 11, a jersey of course historically graced by some of the brightest talents New Zealand has ever produced. From the indomitable Julian Savea at the 2015 World Cup to Rieko Ioane at just 20-years-old, causing havoc for the British & Irish Lions in 2017. As well as the legendary Jonah Lomu.
Yet despite not starting for the Crusaders on the left wing this season either (instead grabbing 11 tries whilst wearing No 14), Foster was confident that Reece would be able to make an impact in similar fashion to his performance in Dunedin.
“He’s energetic, he’s busy and he has played quite a bit on the left wing before, so it’s just a chance to have a look at him in that space,” said Foster. “We’ve been impressed with him. He’s chasing well, he’s energetic and he’s looking for touches.”
Reece was certainly a bright performer against the Flying Fijians, making several nice breaks and exhibiting his quick turn of pace and dynamism. Ian Foster will surely be hoping for more of the same in Hamilton this Saturday.
Further, Reece’s inclusion on the left might also potentially suggest wider plans of variation from Foster, with the aforementioned Ioane dropping to the bench after two consecutive starts at centre against Tonga and Fiji respectively. With Brad Weber and Beauden Barrett the other backs replacements this weekend, it raises the question as to where might Ioane slot in when he is brought on.
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“I think about a lot of things,” remarked Foster, when asked about the potential of Ioane appearing on the wing. “We’re just quite keen for Sevu to have a chance there.”
The All Blacks play Fiji on Saturday 17th July in Hamilton (kick off 7:05pm NZT).
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