Samu Kerevi says he and centres partner Tevita Kuridrani have been issued simple instructions by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika for Saturday night’s first Test against England – run straight, and run hard.
Kerevi will make his international debut in the series opener at Suncorp Stadium and is potentially the last piece of the puzzle for the Australian side as a big-bodied No.12, giving the Wallabies an extra hard edge in midfield.
He is also the latest star to roll off the production line of professional footballers that is Brisbane’s Fijian community.
Kerevi, 22, actually grew up with Kuridrani, who is three years his senior – but because of the age gap, the two have never played together before.
But they do know each other inside-out, having mixed in the same circles, playing backyard rugby as kids and frequenting the same churches in the southern Brisbane suburbs of Moorooka, Annerly and Acacia Ridge.
Kuridrani, like Western Force centre Junior Rasolea, was a source of inspiration for Kerevi when he “made it out” and cracked rugby sevens, Super Rugby and then the Wallabies.
“I’ve been chasing Tevita for a long time now, trying to be as good as him and get better,” Kerevi said.
“We were just talking about it in the gym and laughing about it. The first time we actually play together, we’re in the Wallabies.”
Kerevi has been a standout for the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby, dominating many attacking statistics despite missing a chunk of the season with a broken hand – one that had put his fitness for the series against England in jeopardy.
As Cheika read out the starting team to his players on Thursday morning, Kerevi says he was just sitting there, passively, not expecting to hear his name.
“He kept going and then the boys started shaking my hands, just quietly. I was just like, nah, surely he’s got that wrong or something,” he said.
Even though they’ve never played in the same team, Kerevi says he’s well and truly on the same page as Kerevi.
“It’s real easy. We’re both Fijians so it’s a bit easier,” he said.
“If he starts to get tired of talking English he can talk Fijian to me.
“I can’t speak it very well but I understand what he wants and the way we want to defend and attack.
“We’re big bodies and we know the way we want to play. Cheik bought us in for our physicality.
“It’s real simple. Cheik wants us to play a simple game. It’s exciting times.”
Kerevi has played at No.13 for the Reds but received the nod at inside centre ahead of bench option Christian Lealiifano, Melbourne Rebels rookie Reece Hodge and the injured Karmichael Hunt.
“It changes up the way we look, from a footy perspective, and that’s something we need to do as well as a team, continue to evolve,” Cheika said.