The Queensland Reds will head to South Africa coursing with unexpected confidence after a win that has transformed their Super Rugby prospects, centre Samu Kerevi says.
In by far the biggest shock of the year, the Reds upset reigning champions the Highlanders on Saturday night, hanging on for a thrilling 28-27 victory at Suncorp Stadium – their first of the season.
After weeks of threatening to play attractive, attacking rugby but repeatedly succumbing to skill errors, the passes started sticking for the Reds, who are now hoping to carry that momentum into their first matches outside Australia this year.
They left on Monday on a two-match tour, their first game scheduled for the early hours of Sunday morning (AEST) in Pretoria against the in-form Bulls.
“It’s a massive confidence booster,” Kerevi said.
“(But) we’ve got to remain focused over there to win these two games and keep building our culture.
“We want to be consistent every week and it starts with our preparation. Attention to detail throughout the week is going to be important for each and every individual going forward.”
Queensland vice-captain Rob Simmons is part of the travelling squad, despite suffering what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury in the first half of the Highlanders win.
The lock, who is also the team’s chief line-out caller, has been cleared of any major damage but is thought to be at long odds to start against the Bulls.
Kerevi, meanwhile, has been thrust into the Wallabies selection frame for the forthcoming three-Test visit to England after his star performance on Saturday.
The 22-year-old scored one try, set up two others and was a general menace – in stark contrast to previous weeks, when he has looked slow and ineffective in a disjointed Reds backline.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is a big fan, having invited the 108kg wrecking ball to pre-World Cup training camps last year and including him among the 45 players summoned to another get-together at Cockatoo Island last weekend.
But Kerevi says he is ignoring the plaudits for the time being at least.
“To be honest my main focus is the boys, the Reds,” he said.
“At the end of the day it’s only one win, we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves but at the same time we’ve got to use that momentum to keep going forward.”