The Dominion Post

Questions that demand answers

- Richard Knowler, Hamish Bidwell and Robert van Royen

1. The Crusaders have invited Waikato wing Sevu Reece to train during the summer. Last year Reece appeared in the Hamilton District Court on one count of male assaults female. was discharged without conviction, and fined $750. His hopes of playing for Irish club Connacht disappeare­d when his contract was ripped up. Are the Super Rugby champions wise to recruit Reece? He

Richard Knowler: No problem with it. Liberals bang on about the need to rehabilita­te offenders by offering them a second chance, and profession­al sport forces young men to embrace discipline, stick to routines and keep busy. I’m with them on that score. If Reece gets into strife again, then chop him.

Hamish Bidwell: I’m not going to pick on Reece specifical­ly. I don’t know his circumstan­ces and don’t want to know. But are we so short of talent in New Zealand that we have to contract guys with this in their background? At what point do we really care about respecting women and behaving decently? Why pick people whose presence provides ammunition to critics of New Zealand Rugby? The game doesn’t help itself sometimes.

Robert van Royen: Reece is only 21. He deserves one more shot, but one shot only. If he screws this up, he can forget it. The Crusaders clearly believe the negative publicity of giving him a lifeline are outweighed by the potential upside.

2 The finalists for the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year, to be named at the NZ Rugby awards tomorrow night, are: Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury), Richie Mo’unga (Canterbury), Brodie Retallick (Hawke’s Bay) and Codie Taylor (Canterbury). Name your winner and why.

RK: None of the above for me, thanks. I will go for lock Sam Whitelock, simply for the fact that he slogged his guts out all season for the Crusaders and the All Blacks. His form wasn’t spectacula­r, but that’s not the point.

HB: It’s time to give it to Kendra Cocksedge. She’s an outstandin­g player, a great role model and a genuine contributo­r to the game through her work as women’s rugby co-ordinator in the Crusaders region. I’m not sure what Mo’unga’s doing on that list and would probably give it to Sam Whitelock, whose name isn’t there.

RVR: A close thing between Mo’unga and Taylor, but the former gets the nod after expertly guiding the Crusaders to title number nine in August. The 24-year-old should also nab the fans’ try of the year gong for his kick and chase effort against the Highlander­s in July, when he torched fullback Ben Smith at Christchur­ch Stadium.

3. Rugby Australia is getting slammed for delaying an announceme­nt about the Wallabies coaching set-up, which is led by Michael Cheika, ahead of 2019. What do you make of this?

RK: Loving the entertainm­ent value. Now pass the TV remote. I hear the cartoon channel also makes for good viewing.

HB: I don’t care. The Wallabies are rapidly making themselves irrelevant and whether Cheika is or isn’t coach, or whether

Rugby Australia (RA) are inept or not, really isn’t on my radar. The situation reflects poorly on RA chief Raelene Castle.

RVR: Since when hasn’t Australian rugby been a comedy show? Nuke some popcorn and get comfortabl­e because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. As for what they decide, Cheika’s time must be up. executive

4. It seems unlikely NZ Rugby has been idle since Joe Schmidt announced he will stop coaching after Ireland’s campaign at the World Cup next year. If he doesn’t want to be a head coach, what’s the best solution?

RK: Just make it happen. Doesn’t matter if he has to be linked with a provincial team, or as an employee at HQ in Wellington. Let Schmidt refresh, clear his head and ensure he feels the love. I can’t see any downsides to that.

HB: Schmidt seems a really admirable and capable guy and it’s refreshing to see he’s likely to put his family ahead of his career. On that basis, it’s hard to know where he’ll land and what he’ll fancy work-wise. I’d just love to see someone who says they want to spend more time with their family actually end up doing it.

RVR: As long as NZR don’t promote Ian Foster to the hot seat without inviting applicants, all is well. It’s difficult to imagine Warren Gatland being given the gig after last year’s Lions tour, but he’s probably the best man for the job. Japan coach Jamie Joseph, who was told to head overseas before giving the job a nudge, is also qualified.

5. St Kentigern College wants an all-powerful 1st XV to win the prestigiou­s 1A competitio­n in Auckland. Nothing wrong with that, but the school’s recruitmen­t policy isn’t popular. Who, if anyone, is at fault here?

RK: NZ Rugby should have acted years ago. They use the 1st XV system as a feeding ground for its rep teams, so must take responsibi­lity for not managing schoolboy rugby properly.

HB: Again, I’m just not interested. Where’s the hue and cry when Paraparaum­u College or Dargaville High School have boys finish elsewhere? But as soon Christ’s and Napier Boys’ are the wounded parties, the system’s rotten to the core and we all have to hang our heads in shame.

RVR: Fingers could be pointed in all directions, including at the players themselves. We can only hope New Zealand Rugby’s looming review of schoolboy rugby is followed by some stricter rules around player recruitmen­t.

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