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Robertson backs Reece for ABs


'It's pretty special form, isn't it?' - Crusaders rookie backed for All Blacks honours as Steve Hansen keeps eye on youngsters

In the wake of another sensational outing for the Crusaders, head coach Scott Robertson has backed rookie wing Sevu Reece for a call-up to the All Blacks.

22-year-old Reece, who was called into the Crusaders’ squad at the end of last year on an interim training contract after his deal with Irish Pro14 club Connacht was terminated due to an off-field legal altercation, continued his superb form this season during his side’s 36-10 win over the Lions in Christchurch, scoring two tries and assisting a third.

His first try was a particularly spectacular effort, as he beat five tackle attempts 15 metres from the tryline with pure power, sending Springboks loose forward Kwagga Smith flying in doing so.

Reece’s second five-pointer was a show of wicked speed to outpace Aphiwe Dyantyi and Ross Cronje and reel in his own grubber kick 25 metres from the opposition tryline.

The brace of tries were his fifth and sixth from four starts this year, making him Super Rugby’s third-equal top try-scorer.

So rich is his vein of form that many are beginning to speculate whether it warrants a call-up to the All Blacks, with no outside back certainties to make the national side – aside from Rieko Ioane, Ben Smith, and possibly Jordie Barrett – following a season-ending knee injury to Damian McKenzie.

With incumbent All Blacks wings Nehe Milner-Skudder and Waisake Naholo still sidelined with injury, and the latter badly out of form, there remains an opening for someone of Reece’s ilk to plug those gaps.

Speaking to media after last night’s victory, Robertson praised his star man’s recent performances.

“Look, it’s pretty special form, isn’t it? I could chuck in that speculation myself, but it’s not for me to do that,” Robertson said.

“He just needs to keep playing well.

“He’s little, but powerful and explosive and creates a lot. It’s a really good get for us. I’m just really proud of him really, what he’s achieved on and off the field. He’s a pretty good Crusader, isn’t he?”

Reece wasn’t included in the All Blacks’ 41-man ‘foundation day’ training camp in Wellington earlier this month, although places in that squad were reserved exclusively for those who played for the All Blacks in 2018.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen recently revealed to Radio Sport that “two or three” players have caught his eye during Super Rugby this year.

“I’m not going to mention names and put pressure on them but there have certainly been some people out there,” he said.

“[They] have also been quite obvious to most people.

“”t’s been good to see and now that we’re getting to the business part of the season it’ll be interesting to see if they can maintain that high level of performance that we’ve been getting from them.”

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'It's pretty special form, isn't it?' - Crusaders rookie backed for All Blacks honours as Steve Hansen keeps eye on youngsters
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