Nick Cummins shock call to walk away from the Wallabies has been revealed as a passionate move for his family’s health.
Cummins’ single dad Mark confided that his son had made ‘a remarkable family first’ sacrifice to step up for his seven siblings with his call to sign a deal in Japan.
Cummins is best known as the wild-haired wing known as the “Honey Badger.” Full of wacky one-liners and bullocking tries for the Wallabies and Western Force.
His World Cup chances may not be scuttled as first thought, such are the unique circumstances for being granted a contract release on compassionate grounds by the Australian Rugby Union.
“He’s no mercenary. He treasures playing for the Wallabies and all he is giving up is because of his family,” Cummins’ father said.
“He told me that in his heart he couldn’t enjoy himself when he could be doing more for the kids.”
Two of Cummins’ brothers and sisters have cystic fibrosis and the family was floored by father Mark last year being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“Nick said he could kick in more by signing in Japan where he will get more time off to return to the family and also research alternative medicines.”
Cummins has developed into a Test-quality winger in his 15 Tests, so his exit for a rich deal with Japanese club West Red Sparks is a major blow for the Wallabies.
The ARU statement on his departure left a grey area on whether he could return in February and still bid for World Cup selection next year.
“It is very disappointing to lose a player of Nick’s calibre but after discussing the issues, we appreciate this is a decision based on what is best for him and his family at this time,” Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said.
“He will be sorely missed by the Wallabies on and off the field.”
Western Australia rugby chief executive Mark Sinderberry said he hoped the conditions of Cummins’ release would allow him to play with the Force again next year.
“Due to his extreme personal circumstances, we have reluctantly made a decision to grant Nick an early release from his contract based on compassionate grounds,” ARU boss Bill Pulver said.
“We had been working with Nick and his management team to explore ways to retain him within Australian rugby.”
* Rugby 365