Full steam ahead for milestone man Kuridrani

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Tevita Kuridrani’s ‘choo-choo’ try celebration is the grandest display of extroversion most would see from the Wallabies centre as the 26-year-old has steamed his way to 50 Tests.

He hasn’t sprinted to the milestone like his captain Michael Hooper or backline teammate Israel Folau, who both made it in just a shade past three years, but Kuridrani has rarely been left out of the Test fold since his debut.

The 26-year-old has missed just nine Tests since he made his debut in the opening 2013 Bledisloe Cup match, and never sat out for more than two after that maiden season, with 39 starts from those 49 appearances.

It’s a journey that has raced by for the Brumbies centre, who still remembers being a bundle of nerves ahead of that first match.

“To be honest, it's gone really quick,” he said.

“It (feels) just like yesterday that I debuted.

Tevita Kuridrani is well-embedded in the Wallabies fold now. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley“I remember my debut really well, in 2013, beginning of the Bledisloe Cup against New Zealand. I was very nervous that night, especially playing the All Blacks.

“To be able to have come this far, I’ve really developed a lot and...I’m just really excited to be playing my 50th.”

When he first entered the Wallabies fold, he admits he barely uttered a word and five years on, though he comfortable in that arena, traditional media moments are rare.

Maybe it’s that which has allowed him to somewhat go under the radar as he racked up the Test matches, happy to just play rugby at the best level.

“When I started playing internationals, I was very nervous and then I built into that, confidence wise, I think it built my confidence up, even now playing my 50th (it’s building),” he said.

“I started when I first came into the squad I was a very quiet person and maybe didn't really talk much.

“Probably after all that the past few years, I really needed that on the rugby field, my voice.

“I’ve really worked on that and I think that’s one thing that’s really improved."

These milestones tend not to feature until after games, but Kuridrani did have a quiet word to Will Genia about it during the week.

Genia was the man Kuridrani first roomed with on a Wallabies camp and took the shy Fijian rookie under his wing.

“On the first day of camp he was my roomie and I was still starstruck when I first met him and then to room with him, he's a great person and he made me feel comfortable straight away,” he said.

“None of the boys really knew (about the milestone), probably the person I've talked to about it was Will Genia.

“He just told me congrats, it's a big milestone and there aren't many players who have reached the 50th mark.

“It (the mark) makes me even more excited to play this weekend.”

How many he will eventually add to his current tally is still unclear, with the in-demand back yet to put pen to paper on a new Australian rugby deal, but for now, Kuridrani will just be enjoying the ride. 

The Wallabies take on the Springboks on Saturday, kicking off at 6pm AWST, 8pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS, TEN Win and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.