Samu Kerevi made his Wallabies debut this month and he has the NRC to thank for his meteoric rugby rise.
Kerevi caught the attention of fans and coaches alike in the inaugural NRC season, playing for Brisbane City and has gone on to become the cornerstone of a developing Reds side and, this year, a Wallabies player.
The 22-year-old said the NRC played a pivotal role in his development.
“It was definitely a stepping stone for me and helped me become the player I am today,” he said.
“Through NRC, I gained a lot of experience of the game and knowledge of the game but I think my confidence levels really went up since playing NRC and playing at that level. You get to travel and see parts of Australia and whatnot and it's really exciting times.”
After a stilted club campaign in 2014, Kerevi became a key plank in Brisbane City’s inaugural title side in the same year, putting him on the Super Rugby radar, though he missed the final through injury.
“Coming from an injury-prone year in 2014 to be playing at the back end of the year and playing a lot of footy with NRC provided me with the confidence and the skill aspect that I had to provide for Super Rugby in the following years,” he said.
“I can honestly say that NRC provided that and to a lot of players who are looking to play that it is an exciting brand of footy and something that I've loved to be a part of just because of the culture that the coaching staff has set for Brisbane City and other teams.
This season could be the first NRC stint Kerevi misses, with the Wallabies touring at the same time, but the Reds centre said he would be looking forward to the Queensland derby against Queensland Country most of all.
“I love playing Sydney teams and I love playing Perth and Canberra and like that but for me just versing our fellow teammates at the Reds and playing all the Queenslanders (is the best),” he said.
“I hope I get some game time there and play that game because it means a lot to the Queensland public and hopefully we'll get a massive crowd up.
“There’s a lot of history behind that game and a lot of passion. The boys play together the whole year and to come against each other – there is a lot of fights and beef but it's footy and it's all about mateship. You play hard on the field and it's still mates off the field.”