Waikato assistant coach Roger Randle has made an impassioned plea for Super Rugby sides to take a second look at explosive winger Sevu Reece.
The 21-year-old Fijian has hit a rich vein of form in the 2018 Mitre Cup, and leads the competition with five tries.
Reece has played a key role in turning the season around for the embattled province, helping them win three consecutive matches over an impressive eight-day span to send the side to the top of the Championship standings. The winger scored a hat-trick against Wellington on Wednesday, set a try up against Taranaki on Sunday and was responsible for two more against Hawke’s Bay on Thursday.
Following Waikato’s triumphant Ranfurly Shield defence against Hawke’s Bay on Thursday night, Randle reignited calls for Reece’s inclusion at the next level.
“Guys like Sevu Reece have been outstanding and I think everybody should be looking at him in Super [Rugby],” Randle said. “I don’t care what excuse people have got at Super-land.”
Randle certainly has the pedigree to make such claims. The former All Black scored 50 tries in 59 games for the province and is the second highest try-scorer in Chiefs history with 38.
The only issue with Randle’s assessment of Reece is that the young winger’s immediate rugby future has already been decided.
Reece is currently playing what could be his final season for Waikato, as he is committed to Irish PRO14 club Connacht for the 2018/19 season.
Naholo impressed during the 2015 Super Rugby season with the Highlanders and found himself in the All Black frame before eventually chosing to forgo a two-year deal with French club Clermont to stay in Dunedin.
While Reece’s situation is a little different to Naholo’s as the latter had established himself in Super Rugby, he has still showcased game-breaking potential and performed against high-level opposition. Randle believes the next level is where the young flyer belongs.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play on the wing and he’s [Reece] Super Rugby level. I think Super Rugby coaches need to reflect that with their selections for him and find room for him because he should be on a Super Rugby team,” Randle said.
Auckland-born Aki left New Zealand for Ireland in 2014 and after three years became eligible for the national side following three years of residency. The 28-year-old was named PRO12 Player of the Year for the 2015/16 season and is now a linchpin of the Irish midfield and owner of nine Test caps.
Reece, still classed as an international player by Super Rugby standards – of which New Zealand Super Rugby sides can only have two of – would become eligible for Ireland well ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, where he could find himself coming up against the likes of New Zealand and Fiji.
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