Wallabies hopeful Samu Kerevi says he feels personally obligated to help embattled Queensland Reds coach Richard Graham make a big improvement next Super Rugby season.
“He picked me up from club (rugby), I’ve got to repay that favour for him,” Kerevi told reporters on Monday after the Reds’ first training session of the pre-season.
Graham was controversially re-appointed as Reds coach in August despite a horrendous 2015 campaign beset by injuries and off-field controversies.
Some of the supporter anger has subsided since the original announcement but Graham – who has just a 28 per cent winning record as a Super Rugby coach – will still be a man under intense scrutiny for almost every decision he makes from this point onwards.
Flanked by a new-look coaching staff featuring former Leinster coach Matt O’Connor and dual-code warrior Brad Thorn, which was formed after an extensive high performance review, the Reds believe Graham now has all the resources and support he needs to become a success story as coach.
“For myself and the team we’re just backing Richard 100 per cent,” Kerevi said.
“Whatever he and the coaching staff have for us, there’s amazing experience on the coaching staff we brought in.
“We’re just going to work hard for him, for the squad and bring back Queensland to where it was.”
Kerevi, 22, had a breakout season this year with his Super Rugby form catching the eye of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who called him into camp in July.
While he didn’t make the World Cup squad and is yet to earn his maiden cap, the Fijian-born midfielder has been earmarked for big things in the hope he could develop into Australia’s answer to All Blacks wrecking ball Ma’a Nonu.
But talk of what he could become won’t satisfy Kerevi.
“I just want to get better,” he said.
“I don’t want to be happy with what I’ve done this year, I want to take it to the next level.
“I’ve got goals that I’ve set for the next four years … (but) this pre-season, it’s the first pre-season I haven’t been injured to start. I’m just happy to be fully fit.”