Sevu Reece is set to make his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders, just five months after having his overseas contract torn up due to a court appearance on an assault charge.

Reece, who had a stellar Mitre 10 Cup season with Waikato, had inked a two-year deal with Irish side Connacht, but it was ripped up in October, after his involvement in a domestic violence incident in July.

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.

It was enough for Connacht to end their association with the Waikato winger, and initially, Reece was not named in any Super Rugby squads.


However, Reece was called into the Crusaders' camp for pre-season training, and has now been named in the defending champions' starting lineup for their clash against the Chiefs on Saturday. He is also likely to be named a full-time replacement for Manasa Mataele, who is set to miss the entire season after suffering a knee injury against the Hurricanes.

When Reece was called in for their pre-season training, Crusaders assistant coach Brad Mooar argued that while Reece had made a "serious mistake", he deserved a second chance.

"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."

Sevu Reece. Photo / Getty
Sevu Reece. Photo / Getty

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson spoke from a similar songsheet today.

"I've never had any concerns. He's a quality young kid, he's gone through that process with the incident ... and he's come down here. He's a great human - I don't think there's a guy who has worked harder in our group.

"[He's] extremely humble and I'm glad that we can play a part in his life and help him be the best he can."

Reece's talent has never been in question, and he is likely to impress against a Chiefs side who never called him up despite his stellar showings for Waikato.


"He's broken a few ankles at training, he can step, he can create. He asks a lot of questions, he's very diligent," said an enthused Robertson.

Reece and Braydon Ennor will start on the wing this weekend for the Crusaders, with George Bridge on his manadatory All Blacks rest week, as are Owen Franks and Matt Todd.

With Sam Whitelock and Kieran Read also still resting, the Crusaders forward pack looks weaker than their usual high standards, but Codie Taylor is set to make his return off the bench.

Ryan Crotty also returns to the side, as captain, while halfback Ere Enari is set to make his first start.

Crusaders: Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty (captain), Braydon Ennor, Richie Mo'unga, Ere Enari, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Billy Harmon, Jordan Taufua, Scott Barrett, Mitchell Dunshea, Michael Alaalatoa, Andrew Makalio, Joe Moody

Reserves: Codie Taylor, Harry Allan, Giorgio Bower, Luke Romano, Ethan Blackadder, Bryn Hall, Brett Cameron, David Havili