Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks coach Steven Hansen defends Sevu Reece selection

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has defended the selection of Crusaders winger Sevu Reece, despite his chequered past.

Reece was one of four uncapped players named in the All Blacks' 39-man squad for the opening two tests of the Rugby Championship, alongside Crusaders teammate Braydon Ennor, Highlanders first-five Josh Ioane and Chiefs flanker Luke Jacobson.

But the decision to select Reece has raised eyebrows, after a domestic incident with his girlfriend last July.

The 22-year-old was fined $750, but discharged without conviction by a judge who didn't want to hurt his professional rugby career.

Regardless, Reece's actions saw his contract with Irish rugby club Connacht torn up.

He then joined the Crusaders wider squad and later earned a full-time contract, and will likely finish the Super Rugby season as the top tryscorer.

Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks coach Steven Hansen defends Sevu Reece selection

Despite his off-field struggles, Hansen said he had no hesitation selecting Reece for the All Blacks.

"We've had conversations with the Crusaders that have been managing him and everyone is giving him a massive tick," Hansen said on Thursday. "He's giving himself one on the track, as well as off it.

"Whist you have to put it in consideration, it's been dealt with and you have to move on, and he's playing good football.

"I don't think there is one New Zealander who wouldn't have picked him in the team. You have to do your due diligence, and we've done that and we're happy."  

While Reece has his critics, an AM Show poll this week indicated 70 percent of voters didn't have a problem with his selection.

The Fijian-born star hasn't arrived in All Blacks camp yet - he's with the Crusaders, preparing for Saturday' Super Rugby final against the Jaguares in Christchurch.

Hansen said the Crusaders named in the All Blacks squad would join the squad next Thursday.

The following day, the entire squad - minus most of the Crusaders players and main coaching staff - will fly to Argentina to prepare for the opening Rugby Championship match against the Pumas on July 21.

The balance of the Crusaders players will fly out a few days later, but will be given extra rest after this weekend's Super Rugby final.

Hansen admitted winning the Rugby Championship wasn't a big priority, compared to retaining the Bledisloe Cup and the World Cup down the line.

"Do we want to win [The Rugby Championship] it? Yeah, but we won't lose any sleep over it.

"We want to win the Bledisloe Cup and the World Cup. Along the way, we have to make some sacrifices and take some risks, but hopefully, we get some reward for that."

Hansen also confirmed that some All Blacks would play club rugby this weekend for some extra game-time, but Sonny Bill Williams won't be one of them, after hit hit-out for Auckland champions Ponsonby last week.


Join us on July 21 for live updates of the All Blacks v Argentina Rugby Championship clash

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