Samu Kerevi’s immediate Wallabies hopes are in jeopardy with the Queensland Reds centre ruled out for the next month of Super Rugby due to a broken hand.
Kerevi had scans on Sunday morning after the Reds’ 30-17 win over Cheetahs at Suncorp Stadium and will have surgery on Tuesday.
He will miss three to four weeks of action, meaning the absolute earliest he could return is for the home clash with the Sunwolves on May 21 – the final game before Super Rugby goes into recess ahead of England’s three-Test tour in June.
But Reds captain and would-be Wallaby teammate James Slipper says Kerevi shouldn’t be too downtrodden if the injury setback does cost him a Test debut, because a green and gold jersey will be his eventually.
Kerevi came off the field in tears and had to be consoled by teammates as the realisation surely dawned upon him his hopes of lining up for Australia in the three-Test series against England in June might be shot.
Slipper said Kerevi needs to keep his chin up and his mind on his job at the Reds.
“I don’t think he needs to be thinking about future aspirations for Wallabies and that sort of thing,” Slipper said.
“He just needs to concentrate on staying fit and sorting through his injuries at the moment and playing good rugby, which we’ve seen he’s consistently been doing.
“We all know he’s a future Wallaby.”
Kerevi was last week namedropped as a possible selection bolter by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who included the Fijian-born flyer in some of his preliminary squads last year and is an unabashed fan of the powerful 22-year-old.
Cheika may be tempted to pick him even if he doesn’t play again before the England series, so good has his form been so far this season.
It’s unclear how the Reds might reshuffle their midfield in his absence.
Interim co-coaches Nick Stiles and Matt O’Connor could bring Japanese Test fullback Ayumu Goromaru off the bench, where he has spent most of the season, and move incumbent No.15 Karmichael Hunt to the centres.
Alternatively, rookie Henry Taefu is back from the ankle injury that felled him in the opening round, when he made his Super Rugby debut, while utility Chris Feauai-Sautia is expected to be fit for Queensland’s next assignment, Friday night’s away clash with the Crusaders.