'Honey Badger' quits Australia

    2014-07-04 08:10

    Sydney - Wallabies wing Nick Cummins has been released from his contract to sign with Japan's West Red Sparks for next season, making him ineligible for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, officials said on Friday.

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    The shaggy-haired Cummins, a cult figure known as the "Honey Badger", is among several Wallabies, including forwards Ben Mowen and Kane Douglas, who have opted to go overseas before the World Cup in England.

    Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has already made clear he will only select home-based players for the tournament.

    The Australian Rugby Union said Cummins had been granted an early release from his contract with the national body to play for the Fukuoka-based club in a decision based on "unique family circumstances".

    "We have been working with Nick and his management team to explore ways to retain him within Australian rugby since we were notified of his circumstances," ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said in a statement.

    "Due to his unique and extreme personal circumstances, we have reluctantly made a decision to grant Nick an early release from his current contract based on compassionate grounds."

    Cummins said in a statement late Friday that family health issues were at the heart of the matter.

    "My family is currently enduring some extremely difficult times in terms of their health and wellbeing," Cummins said.

    "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."

    McKenzie said the crowd-pleasing Cummins would be missed by the Wallabies.

    "It is very disappointing to lose a player of Nick's calibre but after discussing the issues at hand, we appreciate that this is a decision based on what is best for him and his family at this time," McKenzie said.

    Rugby WA chief Mark Sinderberry said he hoped the conditions of Cummins' release would allow him to play again with the Western Force in next year's Super Rugby.

    Cummins, 26, has played 15 Tests for the Wallabies since making his debut against Argentina in Rosario in 2012 and has been a mainstay of the Western Force backline since 2008.

    He started in all three of the Wallabies' clean sweep of France last month.

    The Honey Badger released this statement via his Instagram account:

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