Winger in assault case gets All Black place

Sports | ASSOCIATED PRESS 19 Jul 2019

Uncapped winger Sevu Reece has been named in New Zealand's starting side to face Argentina in a Rugby Championship test tomorrow, a selection likely to spark controversy.

Reece appeared in court last year charged with injuring his wife in a drunken assault. He escaped criminal conviction because a judge considered a conviction would have unduly affected his professional career.

Irish club Connacht tore up a contract it had signed with Reece but he was subsequently signed by Super Rugby champions the Crusaders. He topped the try-scoring list in Super Rugby this season.

In naming Reece in his squad for the Rugby Championship, head coach Steven Hansen, a former policeman, said: "As the season has gone on, he has just got better and better as a player. And as a person."

Reece has attacking ability but has a weakness in defense. The flanker Vaea Fifita, who was discarded last season, is back in the No 6 jersey. The No 1 choice, Liam Squire, turned down selection because injuries prevented him playing most of the Super Rugby season.

Ngani Laumape will start at inside center beside Anton Lienert-Brown. Sonny Bill Williams isn't fit to play. Patrick Tuipulotu will combine with Brodie Retallick in the second row. Angus Ta'avao and Ofa Tuungafasi will prop on either side of veteran Dane Coles in an untested front row.

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