Potential Test debutant Samu Kerevi says Camp Wallaby is abuzz with talk of a big-bodied centre combination as Michael Cheika continues to mix and match his backline options.
The Australian side will have all-new centres for the series opener against England at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on June 11, but who exactly lines up in the No.12 and No.13 jerseys remains one of Cheika’s biggest selection headaches across a squad full of intrigue and mystery.
But it’s a good headache to have, with a wealth of candidates at his disposal, including Kerevi, code-switchers Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau, the incumbent Tevita Kuridrani, and Brumbies skipper Christian Lealiifano.
Cheika has to decide if he wants his No.12 to be a second playmaker like Hunt or Lealiifano, or delegate that role to the fullback and go for another bruising linebreaker in the mould of Kerevi, Folau or Kuridrani.
Folau’s sensational form at outside centre for the NSW Waratahs might leave Cheika with no other choice but to install him at 13, play one of Kerevi or Kuridrani opposite, and either Hunt or Dayne Haylett-Perry at fullback.
Or, knowing Cheika, he might do something completely different – but it’s not stopping Kerevi from dreaming.
“It’s exciting, the chat going around about big centres,” he told AAP.
“We’ve got a lot of centres here capable of doing the job. Tevita’s there, I’m looking up to him but at the same time, competing for his spot.
“Izzy, he’s been killing it at 13. Especially having him in the frontline, it’s a bit hard to stop him, the attacking capabilities that he has.”
Cheika said he was impressed by Folau’s damaging midfield work at Super Rugby level but said he would wait and see how things unfolded at their Sunshine Coast camp before making a call.
“He’s played very well there all season in a new role,” he said.
“We’ll just see how a few different combinations work at training.
“No matter what, he’s going to be on the field somewhere and I’m sure he’s going to continue the damaging form he’s had for the Waratahs so far this season.”
Meanwhile, Hunt has this year emerged as Queensland’s first-choice fullback, but says he still believes he could offer more – to the Reds, or to the Wallabies – at inside centre.
“I’m not sure what Cheik’s thinking,” he told AAP.
“I feel like if I’m closer to the ball, in 12, I can create a bit more play.
“That would be best suited to my skill set, to be honest.
“But in saying that, if 15’s where I’m asked to play, I’ll do what I can do for the team.”