Cummins to quit Force for Japan
Nick Cummins at Force training yesterday. Pic: Mogens Johansen/WA News

UPDATE: Wallabies winger and Western Force cult hero Nick Cummins is quitting the club for Japan for next season.

Cummins released a statement this afternoon advising his decision was made for personal reasons.

"My family is currently enduring some extremely difficult times in terms of their health and wellbeing and my time in Japan will hopefully provide me with the opportunity to give back to and provide some certainty for my family during this difficult time," Cummins wrote.

"The ARU and Rugby WA are aware of these circumstances and have been extremely supportive and considerate of the cards I have been dealt.

"I am grateful for their understanding and flexibility in granting me this opportunity.

"It was a difficult decision to make in the context of a Rugby World Cup next year but the health and well being of my family is paramount and the move to Japan is something I have to do for them. I must now put my own interests in the World Cup aside.

"Thanks for everything. It has been a great ride and hopefully this isn't the last time Australian fans will see me in action."

Force CEO Mark Sinderberry said the 26-year-old had been given a release by the club and the Australian Rugby Union 12 months before the end of his contract because of "unique family circumstances".

Sinderberry said they had been in discussions with the player for some time about his situation but the timing of the announcement made by Japanese club Coca Cola West Red Sparks caught by them surprise.

He said the door was open for a possible return to Force.

“We’d certainly like to see Nick back in Force colours beyond this season,” he said. “He’s a player that gives his all on field. He has been a great representative for our club over the past seven years and, as a result, is an extremely popular member both within the team and with our supporters.

“While he’s a player that we’d love to hang on to, we understand Nick’s situation and we respect that this is an outcome that is best for Nick at the present time.”

Cummins is now out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

The man know as the "Honey Badger" has played 15 Tests for the Wallabies since making his debut against Argentina two years ago. He has been at the Force since 2008.

Meanwhile, the Force head tomorrow night's must-win clash against Queensland with an untested pair in the playmaker roles.

Scrum-half Ian Prior will partner his former Brumbies clubmate, fly-half Zack Holmes, for the first time in Super Rugby after regulars Alby Mathewson and Sias Ebersohn were ruled out with injuries from last week's 40-14 thumping by the Blues.

Mathewson has a hip problem while Ebersohn has not recovered from the torn left bicep injury that forced him from the game.

Captain Matt Hodgson has recovered from a head knock and second-rower Adam Coleman, who failed a concussion test during the Blues match, is named in the reserves. He will be monitored today and if not passed fit, coach Michael Foley will call up Phoenix Battye.

Cummins, who missed last week with a neck injury but will return tomorrow, said the side would come back with an improved attitude.

Speaking before news of his move to Japan broke, Cummins said: "There are games when you put in a pretty ordinary performance and the attitude's not right, you come in the next week and have a good crack.

"It was an attitude thing and we've been doing a fair bit, trying to get our minds right this week.

"Foley tends to pull the boys in, talk about a few things, make the circle and everyone speaks on equal terms. We nut out a few things and how we can fix it.

"We had a good chat and a couple of team barbies to get everyone closer. This game is do-or-die."

The Force have won three and drawn one of the past four games against the Reds but coach Richard Graham has questioned their ability to cope with the pressure of playing for a breakthrough play-off spot.

"Having to win the last two games, there's a fair bit of pressure on them mentally," Graham said. "It's a very different situation for them being in that finals (hunt) opposed to stopping other teams making the finals so their thought process will be different and might put a little more pressure on them."

Veteran prop Greg Holmes has been ruled out but the Reds forward pack that has scrummaged impressively and played well at the line-out this year will lose little with James Slipper switching to tight-head and Ben Daley joining the front row.

Former Wallabies winger Lachie Turner will start, 106kg centre Samu Kerevi gets his run-on debut at outside centre and Ben Tapuai moves to inside centre. There are four uncapped players on the bench.

The West Australian

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