He’s big, strong and uncompromising – but pegging Samu Kerevi as a one-dimensional wrecking ball would be a huge mistake by England, newly-appointed Wallabies vice-captain Rob Horne has warned.
Kerevi beat out some hot competition to win a start at No.12 and partner Tevita Kuridrani in the centres for his debut Test on Saturday night in the series opener at Suncorp Stadium.
It’s a move away from Australia’s traditional set-up with a second playmaker, like Matt Giteau or Kurtley Beale, at inside centre.
But to assume all Kerevi can do is run the ball hard and straight would be underestimating what the 22-year-old is capable of, Horne says.
“I wouldn’t want to pigeonhole him,” said Horne, who has been named vice-captain by coach Michael Cheika to replace the departed Adam Ashley-Cooper.
“Because he can certainly do it all and he’s shown that consistently for last couple of years now, the quality player that he is and we expect him to do that tomorrow night.”
Former Wallaby centre Daniel Herbert, now a key executive at the Queensland Rugby Union where Kerevi plays domestic rugby, described Kerevi as the best attacking centre in the country.
“In time, he can become one of the great centres of Australian rugby,” he said.
“(But) the talk of the lack of a ballplayer … well, Ma’a Nonu turned himself into a very good ballplayer and Samu’s got the ability to do that as well.
“He’s got a lot of subtlety, even the way he moves. He’s not a bash and barge guy.
“I think that’s where sometimes people underrate him.”
Horne suggested Cheika has some creative plays in store for the backline after six months sitting on his hands, waiting for the next Test to come.
“The way Cheik picks his teams, we can all slot in everywhere,” he said.
“Rugby’s a fluid game. There is structures but it’s organised chaos for a lot of the game.
“You rarely find yourself in certain positions regularly.”