Rugby News: Nathan Cleary’s switch tease, Hamish slams ‘thuggish’ NRL, ABs star out of RWC, QT still ‘angry’ at Swain


All Blacks star Sevu Reece has been ruled out of the World Cup.

Reece was hurt a fortnight ago in the Crusaders’ Super Rugby win against Blues, coming off just after halftime and it was revealed he suffered an ACL injury.

On Wednesday morning, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said an assessment of the 26-year-old’s knee produced the worst news.

“Sevu’s out for the whole of the 2023 season,” Robertson told journalists in Christchurch.

“He’s back in 24. We really feel for him.

“It’s a hard one. For him and the whole club … he’s so important for us and we really feel for him.

“A lot of work will get him back to where he was beforehand – being a world class wing.”

Reece debuted for the All Blacks in 2019 after topping the Super Rugby try-scoring charts, going on to be first-choice at that year’s World Cup on the right wing.

The Fiji-born 26-year-old was again the highest try-scorer in last year’s Super Rugby competition, and was considered a certain pick for Ian Foster’s squad for this year’s tournament in France.

Robertson also confirmed All Black and Crusaders loose forward Ethan Blackadder would be sidelined for six weeks with a calf tear.

Blackadder, one of 16 injured Crusaders, sustained the blow during the team’s bonus point win against the Brumbies last week.

Nathan Cleary leaves door open

Penrith and Kangaroos superstar Nathan Cleary has refused to rule out a switch to rugby as the cross code fallout continues in the wake of the Joseph Suaalii switch.

RA chair Hamish McLennan has teased that union has another NRL star in their sights having locked down Suaalii from the end of 2024.

Cleary, who is out of contract before the 2027 RWC, has been mooted as a player who could make an impact.

“I have a great admiration and respect for union players, particularly growing up in New Zealand, it’s so big over there,” he told Nine News.

“At the moment I’m pretty happy with where I’m at. Somewhere down the track maybe (I’d consider switching).”

Earlier this year, tThe Panthers halfback had a session with All Blacks legend Dan Carter.

“It was a massive fan boy moment for me, I was frothing, it was pretty cool,” Cleary told Nine News at the time.

“A lot of the stuff was just about mental, he gave me a few tips around that and just the way he speaks about that so fluently – it’s very impressive.

“He obviously put a lot of work into the mental side of things and in saying that, I’ll definitely look to undertake (that) as I get older. I know it’s very important so it was good to bounce ideas off him.”

McLennan continued his bickering with rugby league supremo Peter V’landys – who has claimed rugby is over paying for Suaalii.

“I think that’s a cheap shot … he’s an athlete that’s worth it,” McLennan told Nine.

COVENTRY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21: Nathan Cleary of Australia runs with the ball during the Rugby League World Cup 2021 Pool B match between Australia and Scotland at The Coventry Building Society Arena on October 21, 2022 in Coventry, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

(Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

“We could afford to take him now, and we would be delighted to take him earlier if league didn’t want him.

“The reaction has been quite thuggish in terms of how they’ve treated him, what they’ve said about him and how they have treated him and his manager.

“I think we’re a bit more player-centric in rugby union and a bit more pro-player. I wouldn’t be talking to one of my key guys like that.”

McLennan added that there is another player wanting to make the switch.

“As of yesterday there is one unnamed person out of league who have put their hand up to come across,” he said.

‘I’m still pretty angry’

Injured All Black Quinn Tupaea says he’s still angry at Australian rival Darcy Swain for the cleanout that has put his World Cup in serious jeopardy.

Tupaea suffered extensive knee damage in the All Blacks’win in Melbourne last year and was ruled out for nine months with multiple ligament injuries and a torn ACL.

Swain was banned for six weeks but able to join up the Wallabies Spring Tour after being named on the Australia A squad to play in Japan to soak up some of his ban.

“I’m still pretty angry about it. It’s been tough to let it go – I wouldn’t wish this injury on anyone,” Tupaea told 1News.

Quinn Tupaea of New Zealand All Blacks challenged by Marco Riccioni of Italy during the Autumn Nations Series 2021 match between Italy and New Zealand All Blacks at Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy on 6 November 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“It’s a terrible injury to go through. It’s probably going to be a long time before I can let it go.

“The start was pretty slow and painful… The first six weeks I struggled to leave the bed and the couch. I was stuck at home, I didn’t leave the house for six weeks.”

Tupaea is looking to return to rugby with Waikato in the NPC in July but he fears that might be too late to make the World Cup.

“Before I got injured, obviously, it was my goal to go to the Rugby World Cup but with the All Blacks’ midfield stock at the moment, it’s pretty congested and I’ll be playing no Super Rugby,” he said.

“I’ll be back in time playing for when the World Cup is around but whether I make it… I’m not sure.”

Brumbies upbeat about Crusaders loss

Back to full strength ahead of their clash with arch-rivals NSW Wararaths, the Brumbies say they’ve taken lessons from their first loss of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

Fulfilling Wallabies’ rest policy requirements, the Brumbies sat out six Test players for their trip to New Zealand to face the Crusaders and fell short 35-17 last Friday.

But rather than dent their confidence, veteran prop James Slipper said the players were upbeat about the performance.

“It gave the boys in the squad the opportunity to play for the jersey and I thought they did really well,” the Wallabies captain said.

“They performed pretty well against one of the better teams in the competition.

“We learnt a fair bit – and a few of the boys learnt a lot individually, but we’re back into it this week and are excited by it.”

The Brumbies sit third on the ladder while the Waratahs are one from the bottom, with a solitary win from five games.

The teams also squared off in round one, with the Brumbies taking a hard-fought 31-25 victory.

Despite the contrasting ladder positions, Slipper expected another tough outing at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.

“What I’ve noticed about the Tahs is that they play with a lot of skill and try to play high tempo footy,” he said.

“We know what’s coming – they’re big bodies and hopefully we can sort them out.”

The Waratahs only fell to the unbeaten Chiefs by 10 points last round, with errors cruelling their chances.

No.8 Will Harris said they were determined to kickstart their season with a big showing against the Brumbies, who have won their last 10 meetings.

“I thought we took a few steps in the right direction (against the Chiefs) and we will look to build on it, Harris said on Tuesday.

“Brumbies week has always got a bit of added spice and it’s a great rivalry that I’ve enjoyed playing in but I haven’t beaten them yet.

“I think we’ve got the team and game plan to do it this week.

“They’ve had the wood on us the last couple of years so there’s definitely extra motivation to win.”

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