Eighteen months ago, a 21-year-old Fijian who has drawn attention in New Zealand rugby since moving to his country as a teenager decided to invest in Ireland.
"I am really pleased to sign with Connacht next season," Sevu Reece said in May 2018 after confirming his decision to leave Waikato.
"Connacht is a proud club with passionate support and I look forward to meeting the fans and my new teammates when I get there at the end of my season with Waikato."
Reece, of course, would never make it to the Sportsground.
A Hamilton district court heard evidence that Reece dragged his girlfriend to the ground during a drunken argument one night in North Island City last July, causing her facial injuries and bruising to her knee and waist.
He was fined NZ $ 750 (€ 500) and discharged without conviction for assault, but the proposed measure was quickly canceled.
"It was the right decision for us," said IRFU CEO Philip Browne. "At the end of the day, we have values and you keep your values or not."
Earlier this year, the IRFU had revoked the contracts of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding following the acquittal of rape charges in March. The Irish union had set standards in terms of what they expected from staff, and Reece was no longer welcome in Galway.
Apparently the bar was not that loud in New Zealand.
After an exciting introduction to Super Rugby, Steve Hansen could not ignore the potential, but the former cop faced criticism for choosing Reece on charges of domestic abuse.
"For the sake of simplicity, there are usually two types of domestic violence," Hansen said, with an unusually philosophical tone.
"One where you have a control freak, male or female, or two, you have a frustrated male or female, and they attack. And they're two different kinds of people.
"So when you look at this particular case, instead of asking the question & # 39; why did rugby bring Sev and take care of it? & # 39 ;, the question I would ask is & # 39; what would happen if didn't we do it? & # 39;
Anyway, Reece's upward trajectory in 2019 was attractive.
Initially summoned to the crusader team as a cover, the injury at the end of Israel Dagg's career offered him an opportunity that he seized with both hands.
Although the move abroad did not materialize, an Irish influence was crucial to its development in the Christchurch franchise.
In March of this year, he had not played Super Rugby yet, no matter what the All Blacks shirt, but Ronan O'Gara in his time at Crusaders was able to get around his back talent.
"He's a very different coach to work with, has changed a lot in the way I stand and things, which has helped me a lot at Super Rugby this year and also at the testing level," Reece said last month.
Four months after his debut at the Crusaders, Reece finished the season as Super Rugby's top scorer with a winning medal.
With only three goals in his name when Hansen played in the World Cup squad – only flanker Luke Jacobson and defender Atu Moli were more inexperienced – the coach demonstrated his faith in the speed trader by delivering him to the wing against South Africa. and Namibia – against which he made two attempts – before the last game against Italy against super typhoon Hagibis.
Who loses is on the plane home the next day and it takes him even further
"I can't find the words to describe the emotions I'm feeling right now. I'm very grateful and blessed," says Reece of his journey to the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
"I'll try to treat it like any other game, but at the same time it's a knockout. Anyone who loses will be on the plane at home the next day and that will take him even further."
He is now part of one of New Zealand's most inexperienced lines Ireland has ever faced. With two-time world champion Beauden Barrett on the side, Richie Mo'unga, 14 points, will tie for 10.
Reece and his teammate George Bridge boast 12 games for the national team, while Saturday will bring a dozen times out of center that Jack Goodhue has become world champion.
What threat does Reece expect from Ireland this Saturday at Tokyo Stadium?
"They kick a lot," he says. "This training week, we had some high balls under our belts, me and Bridgey [winger George Bridge], and the other back too.
"On Saturday, there are no excuses for anything."
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