An Irish journalist has taken aim at the All Blacks for "ignoring their own values" and "undermining their culture" with the selection of Sevu Reece.
Writing for the Irish Independent, Ruaidhri O'Connor has claimed that the inclusion of Reece "appears to be at odds with the All Blacks' famed culture".
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Reece was involved in a domestic violence incident last July - 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.
That was enough for Irish side Connacht to rip up the two-year deal they had signed him to, and initially, Reece was not named in any Super Rugby squads. However, the winger was called into the Crusaders' camp for pre-season training, and shone, eventually making his way into the All Blacks and progressing rapidly to be named as a starter in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Ireland tomorrow.
According to O'Connor, the All Blacks selecting Reece puts their reputation at risk.
"The decision to include him shows the lengths the coach is willing to go to, the sacrifices he is willing to make as he looks to sustain the All Blacks' place on top of the world, that he is willing to risk the team's reputation as being cultural leaders to select a player with such a record," O'Connor wrote.
"He's so good at rugby, the All Blacks have made peace with his indiscretions and selected him anyway.
"But selecting him has left them open to the accusation that they have undermined their own culture for the sake of the win."
Reece was asked his complicated rise at the All Blacks' press conference yesterday, and wasn't too keen to expound.
"That's a tough question," he said. "Like I said before, I'm here now, I can't dwell too much on what-ifs. It's just, for me, moving forward, about how I carry myself and contribute to the team on Saturday."
Ironically, Reece is now playing in a World Cup quarter-final against a nation he would have been playing in, and potentially representing five years down the line, but Ireland have no regrets about cutting him loose.
"For us, it was the right decision," Irish Rugby chief executive Philip Browne told the Independent. "For Connacht, it was the right decision and for the IRFU. At the end of the day, we have values and you either stand by your values or you don't.
"We effectively said, 'We think this is not the greatest thing for us to do.' At the same time, you obviously have to look at the fact that every person has their own challenges and it's not for us to be, effectively, judgmental on the individual.
"It's important for us that we live the values that we put up on the wall.
"I think it was the right decision."
If Reece plays well tomorrow night, it could turn out to be a decision which ends Ireland's World Cup.