Nick Cummins.
Nick Cummins. AAP IMAGES

Sayonara: Nick Cummins AKA The Honey Badger off to Japan

THE Western Force has been dealt a blow ahead of tonight's round 18 Super Rugby match against the Queensland Reds in Perth.

Cult favourite Nick Cummins, known as the Honey Badger, revealed yesterday he had been granted an early release from his contract to link with Japanese club Coca Cola West Red Sparks.

The decision means the 15-Test winger will be ineligible for selection for the Wallabies at next year's World Cup.

The Force is seventh on the Super Rugby standings and must win tonight to stay in the hunt for the play-offs.

Already guaranteed a place in the post-season, the Waratahs can lock up a home final with a win against the Highlanders in Sydney tomorrow afternoon.

The stats suggest they have a great chance of doing that, with the team leading the competition this season in the areas of most carries, most metres gained and most passes.

Then there is star fullback Israel Folau who has 11 tries this season - the most in the competition.

Meanwhile, the Crusaders will welcome back stars Kieran Read, Dan Carter, Israel Dagg and Nemani Nadolo for their clash against the Blues at Christchurch Stadium tonight.

Blues hooker Keven Mealamu will become the first player to reach the 150-game milestone for the Auckland-based team.