It’s been a year of peaks and troughs for Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi, but one moment with his grandfather meant more than any other.
Kerevi was in brilliant form for the Reds before being struck by an ankle injury ahead of the Wallabies’ June Series, forced to watch on as Australia took on his native Fiji, Scotland and Italy.
Elevated into the Queensland captaincy with James Slipper injured, Kerevi’s stocks have risen steadily off the field, though, with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika endorsing his leadership potential through the year as well.
Kerevi said it was some praise from grandfather and the man who effectively raised him in Brisbane, Peceli Viriki, that had given him an extra lift this season
“We were just sitting around home and he said he’s really proud of the man I’m becoming and the way I’ve carried myself the last couple of years,” he said.
“I don’t want to change too much in a bad way, I want to still be the positive guy I always like to be.
“He’s someone I look up to a lot and I want to be the type of man he is when I get older and now as I’m growing up.
“So for him to say something like that means a lot to me.
“I take everything he says into consideration, with my decision-making and just how I live my life so for him to say he’s proud of me is probably the highlight of everything that’s going on right now.”
Kerevi said taking on more of the leadership load would hopefully elevate his rugby at both Super Rugby and Test level, the centre conscious to ensure he is meticulous in his preparation.
“I’m taking more responsibilities in the leadership role with the Reds and hopefully that makes me a bit better as a Wallaby, just making sure I don’t take the shortcuts and putting my best foot forward for the team," he said.
Kerevi didn’t feature in last year’s Bledisloe Cup opener, but had become Australia’s first-choice 13 by the end of the Rugby Championship.
Though he’s a generally outgoing person, Kerevi doesn’t want his words to be the mark of his leadership.
“I’ve always wanted just to play footy, so I’ve always been happy to run hard and do all the jobs I need to do but I guess being a leader now with the Reds, I see more of an emphasis on it, being able to lead by example not having to say much,” he said.
“There’s a lot of leaders that say the right things but for me it’s about doing the right things for the team and putting myself in the best position to contribute best for the team.”
The Wallabies will name a 33-man Rugby Championship squad on Friday, ahead of the August 19 Bledisloe opener. Bledisloe Cup tickets here.