The Western Force have confirmed Wallabies winger Nick Cummins will head to Japan after the Super Rugby season, ruling him out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Wallabies cult hero Nick Cummins says he’s had to put aside his dream of playing in next year’s Rugby World Cup to provide immediate certainty for his sick family.
Nicknamed the “Honey Badger”, Cummins has been reluctantly granted a release from his ARU and Super Rugby contract to play in Japan due to “unique and extreme personal circumstances”.
The 26-year-old 15-Test winger has been in career-best form with the Force in 2014 and started in all three Tests in the clean sweep victory over France last month.
But at the end of the Super Rugby season Cummins will join the Coca Cola West Red Sparks on a lucrative deal in Japan’s Top League, which runs from the end of August until the beginning of February.
That means Cummins will join former captain Ben Mowen and Kane Douglas as Wallabies that have ruled themselves out of next year’s Rugby World Cup, kicking off in mid-September.
“My family is currently enduring some extremely difficult times in terms of their health and wellbeing,” Cummins wrote in a statement on Friday.
“My time in Japan will hopefully provide me with the opportunity to give back to and provide some certainty for my family.
“It was a difficult decision to make in the context of a Rugby World Cup next year, but the health and wellbeing of my family is paramount.
“I now must put my own interests in the world cup aside.”
The wild-haired, knockabout winger’s Test-winning percentage (77 per cent) is up there with the most successful Wallabies of all time.
His success rate increases to 100 per cent when he “bags some meat”.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said Cummins would be sorely missed.
“It is very disappointing to lose a player of Nick’s calibre, but we appreciate this is a decision based on what is best for him and his family,” he said.
Fortunately for the Wallabies, dynamic winger Henry Speight becomes eligible to play for Australia from September 11, while his Brumbies teammate Joe Tomane will soon return to the field from a fractured cheekbone.
While Cummins will be out of Test action for the foreseeable future, the Force are working out ways for the Japanese club to loan the cult hero back to them – a la George Smith with the Brumbies in 2013 – for next year’s Super Rugby season, which will begin in mid-February.
“It’s hoped the conditions of Cummins’ release will allow him to play with the Force again next year,” a statement from the Force said on Friday.
Cummins’ decision to accept the Japanese offer wasn’t necessarily a surprise to the Force, but the timing of the unexpected West Red Sparks’ announcement certainly was.
“It’s hugely disappointing but, ultimately, it’s more disappointing for Nick with the situation he’s facing,” Force CEO Mark Sinderberry said.