Cape Town - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has defended the selection of Crusaders wing Sevu Reece in his squad for the Rugby Championship Tests against Argentina and South Africa.
This, after the selection was criticised due to Reece facing charges of domestic violence last year. He admitted to one count of assault after injuring his partner while drunk in a Hamilton street, but was discharged without conviction.
He joined the Crusaders this year and has flourished during their Super Rugby campaign. Reece finished as Super Rugby's top try-scorer with 15 tries and was rewarded with an All Blacks call-up.
And Hansen believes the 22-year-old flyer deserves his place in the world champions’ squad despite his off-field indiscretion.
“It’s a big part of our society unfortunately,” Hansen told Radio Sport on Saturday.
“So rugby is going to have people within its community that are involved in this.
“And having been a policeman, I’ve seen plenty of it. And I know it’s not just restricted to males assaulting women, women assault males too.
“It’s not a gender thing, it’s a New Zealand problem.”
Hansen said New Zealand Rugby were against domestic violence and that the Crusaders has helped Reece to turn his life around.
Instead, he blamed poor parenting as the reason it was a societal issue in New Zealand.
“In some cases, unfortunately, the kids in the family follow the same methods as the people they live with,” said Hansen.
“And if they don’t get the right support and they don’t get the right help, then they end up going down a path that we don’t want them too. And we can’t deny that it’s happening in this country because we see it all the time.
“When I was a policeman I saw it all the time.”
Hansen also said there were two types of domestic abuser and feels Reece might not have been rehabilitated if he wasn’t a professional rugby player.
“To simplify it a little bit, there’s usually two types of domestic violence,” he added.
“One where you’ve got a control freak, male or female, or two, you’ve got a frustrated male or female, and they strike out. And that’s two different types of people.
“So when you look at this particular case, rather than asking the question ‘why has rugby brought Sev in and looked after him?’, the question I’d ask is ‘what would happen if we didn’t?’
“He’s come into an environment in the Crusaders where they’ve put a lot of things around him that have helped educate him, they’ve helped him understand that to be a good person you have to do certain things, and by doing that he’s shown a lot of remorse for what he’s done.
“He’s been actively trying to better himself and also, when he comes into our environment we already have a policy that better people make better All Blacks so we continue that with each and every individual we’ve got.”
New Zealand's 39-man squad named for the opening two matches of this year's Rugby Championship against Argentina and South Africa:
Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Jackson Hemopo, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Shannon Frizell, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Kieran Read (captain), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd
TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Josh Ioane, Richie Mo'unga, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Braydon Ennor, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith