The Crusaders have signed disgraced Waikato winger Sevu Reece for the Super Rugby pre-season.
The 21-year-old had a stellar season with the Mooloos, ending the Mitre 10 Cup as top try scorer in the tournament with 14 tries.
But off the field, Reece's year was stained by his involvement in a domestic violence incident in July.
According to the police summary of facts, Reece was seen grabbing his partner and pulling her down to the ground, after the pair got into an argument. The woman suffered injuries to her face and bruising to her waist and knee.
The judge granted Reece a discharge without conviction and fined him $750 after taking into account several mitigating factors: Reece's first time before the courts; that he took full responsibility for the offence; his participation in restorative justice; and that he was undergoing counselling with his partner.
Crusaders assistant coach Brad Mooar today confirmed that Reece was with the squad on a replacement contract, and that the franchise was aware of his chequered past.
"It's outstanding to have him here," Mooar said. "He lit up the Mitre 10 Cup didn't he and he was outstanding, scoring tries willy-nilly.
"The next question will be about his off-field stuff so I'll just hit that on the head now. Look we're really aware of what's happened in the last 10 to 12 months for Sivu. We've discussed that with him, had a really good conversation.
"He's here as a replacement player at the moment through to the end of the pre-season games. And it's a great opportunity for him to show us what he's about, and us to show him what we're about."
Reece was suspended for Waikato's Ranfurly Shield game against Otago in October, while Irish club Connacht terminated his looming two-year contract following his court appearance.
The unwanted winger went undrafted by Super Rugby teams last month, but has now been given a chance to impress with the defending champions until at least the end of pre-season.
Mooar – who announced that he will be leaving the Crusaders after next year's Super Rugby season to become head coach of Welsh club Scarlets – said the team was aware of Reece's past, and that the they will be working closely with Reece in addressing his off-field behaviour.
"He's a young man who has made a mistake. And it's a serious mistake.
"At the same time, once we discussed that and had the conversation with him, and being able to go deep on that and eye-ball each other, we can see the genuine remorse and his acceptance that he's done wrong and is working to fix it. And improve as a person.
"He's with his partner and he has great support from her. And we can watch him over pre-season and see how it rolls."