Cult figure Nick Cummins has made the shock call to walk away from the Wallabies for something more precious … fighting the illness in his close-knit family.
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 winger with the knockabout “Honey Badger” persona of wacky one-liners and bullocking tries for the Wallabies and Western Force.
His World Cup chances in 14 months 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. The private “Badger” is one of great strength and family values.
“He’s no mercenary. He treasures playing for the Wallabies and all he is giving up is because of his family,” Cummins senior said from his Brisbane home yesterday.
“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.
Inspiring dad Mark was honoured as Queensland’s Father of the Year in 2012 for his herculean parenting effort.
“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 Coca Cola 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.
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